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Pitching in to Help Others

Posted by Lynn Bronikowski  

Suddenly, she was struck with a thunderclap headache but kept forging ahead—designing floral arrangements for her premier event.

“I ignored all the signs of stroke,” said Chapman. “Who would have thought it could be a stroke for someone who was 33 years old?”

She ultimately was found unconscious in her condo by a friend. He knew immediately it was a stroke and got her to a hospital where she spent two months, including her time in rehab.

After she was discharged, she engaged briefly in a brain injury support group.

“But I felt I didn’t belong,” she said. “At first you feel like an outcast because you had a stroke. Your dignity is gone and I needed to be around my own kind and speak to someone who understood stroke.”

She randomly called hospitals about setting up a support group. The University of California San Francisco Medical Center responded favorably. Their nurses even began calling patients inviting them to a stroke survivors and caregivers meeting.

“Seventy-five people showed up at the first meeting,” said Chapman. “Our group blossomed out of other survivors coming together that evening.”

Chapman’s aneurysm grew back in the brain stem area, so in 2010 she moved to Phoenix to receive treatment at the Barrow Neurological Institute. In all, she underwent nine surgeries and this year she marked the fifth anniversary of her last surgery.

“When I look back to 2004 I see that there has been a huge amount of progress in 10 years,” said Chapman. “I’m doing well and am so proud of the stroke community and the strides we have made.”

Chapman continued her mission to set up support groups, ultimately partnering with the Joe Niekro Foundation based in Scottsdale to set up a network of support groups across the country. The foundation was started in 2008 by Natalie Niekro in honor of her father, the major league baseball player whose big-league career spanned from 1967 to 1988. He died of a stroke in 2006.

“There is nothing like feeling you’re the only person going through this,” said Chapman, who volunteers her hours to the foundation as patient advocate and support group coordinator. “Only a survivor can know what someone is going through.  Support groups are a safe place for someone who needs to talk. They empower stroke survivors.”

Robert Spetzler, M.C., director of Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph, appreciates Chapman’s efforts in advocating for stroke survivors.

“She has provided outreach and critically needed support not only to patients with aneurysms, strokes, and other devastating neurological diseases, but also to their caregivers, who all too often don’t know how to cope and feel overwhelmed,” said Spetzler. “She is passionate about establishing and nurturing partnerships and relationships in local communities to provide resources during such critical and difficult times.  We congratulate Kimberly on the wonderful work she is doing and on the lifeline she offers to so many.”

National Stroke Association offers a registry of support groups across the country on its website at stroke.org.

National Stroke Association Names New CEO

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By Clair Diones

National Stroke Association has appointed veteran nonprofit leader Robyn Moore as Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Moore brings more than 20 years of experience in the nonprofit healthcare industry to the only nonprofit dedicated 100 percent to stroke.

Moore most recently was chief development officer at the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado where for 10 years she oversaw all fundraising efforts and special events. A native of Villa Park, Calif., Moore spent nine years as director of development for the Irvine regional office of City of Hope Cancer Center prior to joining the Alzheimer’s Association.

For more than 30 years National Stroke Association has made significant strides in the stroke community through programs of prevention treatment and post-stroke care and has empowered survivors and their circle of care to thrive after stroke.

Moore is passionate about stroke having witnessed first-hand the impact of stroke when her own father experienced a stroke. He was a Marine fighter pilot for 21 years and later an entrepreneur, who was extremely healthy, walking five miles a day and on his 75th birthday hiked to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.

“The effects of stroke on his life at 79 years old have been monumental for him, my step mom and our entire family,” said Moore. “I’m excited to blend my development and nonprofit background with my personal passion for stroke in leading a team that creates support systems and other resources for stroke survivors and their road to recovery.”

Moore said she’s aware of the stroke community’s critical need for awareness of life-saving stroke warning signs, resources to guide and support survivors and their caregivers and professional education for healthcare providers.

Dr. Michael D. Walker, Chairman of National Stroke Association Board of Directors, said the board was impressed by Moore’s passion for stroke and expertise in both philanthropy and healthcare.

“We’re thrilled that Robyn is taking the helm of our national organization,” said Walker. “She not only brings a passion to make a difference in the stroke community but will lead the next phase of our strategic growth on a national scale.”

About National Stroke Association

National Stroke Association offers people Hope After Stroke, so survivors and their circle of care can begin their journey to Come Back Strong. Founded in 1984, National Stroke Association is the only U.S. organization focused solely on reducing the incidence and impact of stroke through prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation support for stroke survivors and caregivers.