Stroke Smart Magazine
CHAMPION OF HOPE
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By Jane Sims
When Joe Sabah had a stroke two years ago, he thought his career was over. “My voice is my business,” said the 75-year-old motivational speaker whose stroke affected the left side of his body and his speech. With determination and a positive attitude, Sabah worked hard at his rehabilitation and was back on the speaker circuit within months. Now, he's making a difference in people's lives by speaking on an entirely new topic: How to prevent a stroke and live life to the fullest.
“I've lived through a stroke, and now I'm out on the other end,” said the Colorado resident. “My message to others is that strokes are preventable. I also ask them, 'Are you doing what you would like to be doing in life, and if not, why not?'”
For more than 25 years, the former bookkeeper turned public speaker and author (“How to Get the Job You Really Want and Get Employers to Call You” and “How to Get on Radio Talk Shows All Across America Without Leaving Your Home or Office”) has encouraged people to follow their dreams and achieve their goals. A co-founder of the Colorado Speakers Association, Sabah has been a guest on more than 650 radio talk shows and has spoken to 16 state and regional speaking and publishing associations.
After his stroke, Sabah spent six weeks in a rehabilitation center where he regained his speech and some use of his left side. Although he considers himself fortunate, he is well aware that his recovery was not just a matter of luck. “Every year in America 750,000 people have strokes,” he said. “For those who get better, it's not just the luck of the draw, it's a matter of positive thinking.”
Sabah educates audiences throughout Colorado about stroke prevention with the help of a little yellow card and plenty of humor. “On the front of the card I offer five quick and easy ways to have a stroke,” he explained. “You should smoke, keep your blood pressure high, keep your cholesterol count over 200, carry two bowling balls with you all day long which equals an extra 35 pounds, and don't exercise. I never smoked, but I did the other four really well.” Sabah then explains the importance of living a healthy lifestyle to prevent stroke. The back of the card captures Sabah's sunny outlook. “I tell people to sing 'Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,' and 'Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin',' to brighten their day. This is the message I like to leave with people.”
His other message, one that he takes to heart, is to cherish life. “I ask people, what is your song? If you're not singing your song, please hum the tune,” said Sabah. “Don't just sit around and watch television! It's good to struggle a bit and get out of your comfort zone!”
Three weeks ago, Sabah left his own comfort zone and traveled alone to visit his sister in North Carolina. Thrilled with his accomplishment, he came home with a newfound goal. “Our mother lived to the age of 99,” he said. “My sister and I have decided we are going to go for 100!”
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