Friday, July 6, 2012

American Heart Association Western States Affiliate Honors Group of Local Stroke Survivors and Caregivers with Stroke Champion Award

A group of six Sacramento-area stroke survivors and caregivers have been honored with the American Heart Association Western States Affiliate Stroke Champion Award.

The Stroke Champion Award recognizes outstanding efforts directed toward prevention, education and/or improving a community’s stroke system of care. Honored for both their individual achievements and collective efforts were Rosey Ramsey, Spencer and Arleen Ellis, Gary and Lita Lappin and Mary Thomatos.

“These remarkable stroke survivors and caregivers embody the spirit of the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association through the power of their incredible volunteerism and selfless dedication,” said Roman Bowser, Executive Vice President of the Western States Affiliate. “They continue to inspire passion through their ongoing efforts to increase stroke survivor support groups and advocate for the needs of stroke survivors everywhere.”

Ramsey, a registered nurse and stroke survivor, was selected for her continued involvement in the recruitment of volunteers and growth of stroke support groups. For more than eight years she has actively grown her stroke support group to the 40 members it boasts today. She also serves as the American Stroke Association representative at various meetings and functions in Sacramento. "This is an honor and a wonderful surprise," said Ramsey. "I cannot imagine doing anything better with my life. Besides, I’m having a great time with a wonderful group of people while we advocate for stroke-related causes. I’m delighted to be making a difference."

Arleen Ellis, a stroke survivor, and her husband Spencer, who serves as her caretaker, were both honored for their volunteerism within community support groups and the American Stroke Association. Spencer is currently the primary contact for two separate stroke support groups while both serve as peer visitors and have been trained through the American Stroke Association’s Sharegivers program. “We love being part of the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association mission, and we’d really like to thank the organization for all of their hard work and dedication,” said Arleen. “We’re not volunteering to win any kind of awards, but it still feels really good to be recognized.”

Gary and Lita Lappin were awarded for their dedication to volunteer work and contributions to city-wide stroke luncheons in the Sacramento community. Lita, a stroke survivor, has helped with the Sacramento Area Stroke Resource Guide revisions through two cycles while her husband and caregiver Gary has offered his time to help set up stroke events, offer rides to other stroke survivors and even serve as Santa’s helper at the Christmas luncheon.“We love the work that we do and having the opportunity to represent and be part of such a strong community,” said Lita. “Being recognized with an award like this is just icing on the cake.”

Mary Thomatos, caregiver and driver for her husband Gus, was recognized for being an outstanding resource in communicating the needs of the association to the entire community. She has been instrumental with community outreach, recruiting volunteers for events and support groups and keeping her contacts in the stroke survivor community engaged and involved. “It has been a privilege to get involved with this strong community, not only for my husband but for the people who otherwise wouldn’t know about these great  programs,” said Thomatos. “I am so grateful for the work being done by the organization and I’m just so thankful to be a part of such a great cause.”

Collectively, these six extraordinary people have helped grow the number of stroke support groups in the region from three to six and have taken over many of the operations for the city-wide stroke luncheons. They’ve done everything from securing dates and locations, finding speakers, publicizing events, creating flyers, handling attendance and completely staffing the luncheons which often surpass 100 attendees.  They have been true advocates for the needs of stroke survivors everywhere and passionate spokespeople for the American Stroke Association.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – America’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers. They team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or join them, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or any of their offices around the country, or visit
Blog Post information and picture courtesy of the American Heart Association.

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