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2012 RAISE Awards

The second annual Raising Awareness in Stroke Excellence (RAISE) Awards winners were honored on Oct. 19 at the Downtown Aquarium in Denver, Colo. Six awards were presented to the following individuals and groups.

From left: Joe Romenensko (Most Impactful Community Fundraising Event), Elijah Rutherford (Most Creative), Kathy Howard (Outstanding Individual), Carol Dow-Richards (Outstanding Support Group), Julie Ring and Jana White (Outstanding Group), Barbara Wilder (Most Impactful)


Most Creative

Photo of Elijah with his teddy bear Pat
Elijah Rutherford with one of his awareness bears.

Elijah Rutherford

Elijah had a stroke in utero. When he was 6, he wondered why there were no awareness ribbons for pediatric stroke. He wanted to educate the world that children, babies and even unborn babies can have strokes. He began taking his teddy bears, Pat and Patricia, to visit children who had survived strokes. Now Elijah and his bears visit hundreds of children around the world and help them feel more comfortable with the differences or disabilities brought on by stroke. Learn more about the traveling bears at


Most Impactful

Photo of Barbara Wilder
Barbara Wilder enjoys riding her bicycle to stay active.

Barbara Wilder

Ms. Wilder is a 14-year stroke survivor and ambassador of the Stroke Support Association in Long Beach, Calif. For the past 10 years, she has visited stroke survivors and their families at the Long Beach Memorial Community Hospital in California. Through her visits she brings new stroke patients and their families hope, encouragement and her own story of survival. Barbara also acts as a mentor and helps train new volunteers.

Barbara Wilder

Outstanding Individual

Photo of Kathy and her husband
Kathy Howard with her husband, Jim.

Kathy Howard

Almost three years ago, Ms. Howard started the Warrior Walk (now known as Stampede for Stroke), walking 11.8 miles from the hospital where she was first treated for her stroke to the hospital where she received outpatient treatment. She is also the founder of ABC Brigade, an organization committed to raising awareness about stroke prevention and educating stroke survivors and their families that there is life after stroke. The organization holds an annual stroke fair with educational booths, health screenings and speakers. Learn more about ABC Brigade at

Kathy Howard

Outstanding Group

Photo of CHASA booth
CHASA spreads awareness about pediatric stroke during community events and their annual family retreat.

Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Association President Jana White and Vice President Julie Ring

CHASA is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1996 and is dedicated to improving the lives of children and families affected by pediatric stroke and other causes of hemiplegia. In addition to a focus on raising awareness about pediatric stroke to increase understanding and early diagnosis, CHASA provides three informational websites for its more than 5,000 members, plans and hosts an annual retreat for families of children who have hemiplegia, and supports local family events through a small grant program. CHASA also assists researchers in recruiting participants for research studies, provides financial assistance to help families in need purchase hand and foot braces, and provides college and vocational school and athletic scholarships for young adults who have hemiplegia. Learn more at

Photo collage of CHASA events

Most Impactful Community Fundraising Event

Photo of the Fat Tire Bike Club
Joe Romenesko held a successful fundraiser on St. Patrick’s Day.

Joe Romenesko
Joe Romenesko

Mr. Romenesko, a stroke survivor, wakes up every morning intending to show the world that a stroke does not necessarily mean the end of a fulfilling and productive life. With some friends and fellow cyclists, he planned a fundraising event, then represented National Stroke Association by biking 42 miles in the 2012 TD Bank Five Boro Bike Tour. His event was attended by more than 800 people and raised more than $16,000 for stroke awareness.

Photo collage of Joe and friends

Outstanding Support Group

Aphasia Lunch Bunch logo

The Aphasia Lunch Bunch Carol Dow-Richards, group leader
The Aphasia Lunch Bunch Carol Dow-Richards, group leader

The Aphasia Lunch Bunch is making an impact in the stroke and aphasia community in Las Vegas. The support group provides classes, activities, conference, educational materials and videos to members and their caregivers. Meetings are filled with sharing ideas and solutions, and classes on everything from alternate communications to cooking are eagerly attended. The goal is to assist every individual, family member and caregiver in coping with and conquering the difficulties in dealing with the life changes associated with stroke.

Photo collage of the Aphasia Lunch Bunch

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