The Penn State Hershey Stroke Support Group has had a singular purpose for the past 34 years: serving fellow survivors and caregivers.
Partnering with Penn State Health staff in Hershey, Pennsylvania, the group has inspired many and raised awareness about stroke. As a result, their average monthly attendance at meetings has increased from eight to 40 survivors and caregivers.
The group, which adopted the informal title “Stroke Survivors and Thrivers” eight years ago:
- Meets separately with survivors and caregivers quarterly for frank discussions and support without burdening their loved ones.
- Hands out F.A.S.T. stroke warning signs pocket cards throughout the area.
- Participates in community awareness events and screenings and the American Heart Association’s annual Heart Walk.
- Volunteers for research studies to increase knowledge about stroke, including one member who became the third person in the world to volunteer for a deep brain stimulator study at the Cleveland Clinic.
Another member has spread messages about his stroke journey through poignant essays. Penn State Health published his booklet of essays that members share with family, friends and other support groups.
And recently, another member and his wife started the non-profit Stroke Survivor Foundation to grant stroke survivors’ wishes.
And all members of the Penn State Hershey Stroke Support Group say they’re driven to inspire and educate others that strokes aren’t the end of their stories — but another chapter.