Caregiver Hero:
Justine Knight

Raleigh, North Carolina

“Winning this award is an honor, and a reminder of my life mission. I am fortunate to have an able body and as long as I do, I'll use it to help others live the life they deserve.” – Justine Knight

Justine Knight was a high school sophomore when her father, Peter, suffered a stroke in 2008.

But she didn’t let her age deter her from becoming his biggest advocate.

After watching him struggle with aphasia, hemiparesis, isolation and depression, she encouraged him to attend a local stroke support group meeting. Like many in his situation, Peter hesitated. But Justine didn’t take no for an answer.

Eventually, father and daughter attended their first meeting together and received a warm welcome, even though Justine, as a high school student, didn’t fit the typical caregiver profile.

That meeting changed both their lives: Justine found purpose in caring for her father, and Peter found purpose in encouraging other stroke survivors.

Throughout Justine’s years in high school and college, they continued to participate in stroke and aphasia groups in New England, then again when they moved to Raleigh, North Carolina.

Later, Peter’s speech improved, and he developed meaningful friendships. Justine began educating her peers about aphasia, contributing to support group programming and raising money for the American Stroke Association.

Years of attending support groups and retreats with her father fueled Justine’s passion for stroke survivors and people with aphasia. Inspired by the recovery journeys and the sense of community that had made Peter feel like he belonged, she began volunteering with Triangle Aphasia Project Unlimited (TAP), a nonprofit that supports people with aphasia and their families through groups and education. She dedicated her evenings to event planning and fundraising. When the COVID-19 pandemic impacted her running club’s race plans, she organized a race for the group with TAP as the beneficiary.

In 2018, Justine and her husband, Jason, joined Tedy’s Team for the Boston Marathon. As part of the team, they raised funds for the American Stroke Association while educating their friends and family about stroke. Peter cheered from the sidelines on Marathon Monday.

Later, when Justine became Peter’s primary caregiver, she and Jason adapted their house and habits to accommodate his physical limitations when he moved in.

All the while, Justine sought a way to dedicate her professional career to stroke survivors. In 2021, she became TAP’s executive director, ardently supporting people with aphasia and their families — and working to ensure that they don’t experience isolation and depression as her father did in 2008.