2018 RAISE Award: Outstanding Caregiver

Charlene Hayward, Colorado

When Charlene Hayward’s husband, Steve, was in the ICU following his stroke in 2015, his prognosis was bleak. He couldn’t blink or swallow and was completely paralyzed on his left side. Doctors told her that her husband would never ride horses, wrangle cattle, build houses, or work on a ranch again. However, she knew her husband’s stubborn side and hardworking personality and did not give up on him. She became Steve’s advocate, nurse, and therapist. She wore every hat she could think of wearing to give him every chance of a meaningful recovery.

Not only did Steve walk again but he now rides horses in equine therapy and helps his friends on the ranch. He and Charlene joined the Life After Stroke Support Group, contributing much laughter and strength.

Charlene is honest about the hardships of caregiving but remains grateful for her blessings. She encourages self-care and finding little moments to carry a person through. She hosted a barbecue for all the people who helped Steve in his recovery as a way to say thank you.

Charlene’s story is so unique that a local television station featured her and Steve as part of a National Stroke Awareness Month feature. Her advice? Never give up and look for the blessings in disguise. Charlene is a strong, fierce and determined wife, mother and caregiver.