Pediatric Stroke Awareness Champions and Aphasia Support Group Among Honorees at Raising Awareness in Stroke Excellence (RAISE) Awards

Oct 22, 2012, 13:30 ET from National Stroke Association

Actor, Author and Stroke Survivor Kevin Sorbo Delivered "True Strength" Keynote

DENVER, Oct. 22, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Elijah Rutherford, 9, suffered a stroke before birth. By age six, Elijah noticed that few were raising awareness about pediatric stroke, a leading cause of death in children in the U.S. He wanted to educate the world that children, babies and even unborn babies can have strokes. He began taking his teddy bears, Pat and Patricia, to visit children who had survived strokes. Now Elijah and his bears visit hundreds of children around the world and help them feel more comfortable with the differences or disabilities brought on by stroke.


Elijah and six other winners were honored by National Stroke Association at the Second Annual Raising Awareness In Stroke Excellence (RAISE) Awards on Friday, October 19, 2012, at the Downtown Denver Aquarium in Denver, Colo. Hollywood actor, author, and stroke survivor Kevin Sorbo headlined the event with a keynote speech, "True Strength," and an exclusive book signing for event attendees. View event photos and see the award winners.

The RAISE Awards is a national program that recognizes individuals and groups in multiple categories for taking stroke awareness activities to new heights. Former CBS Weatherman and stroke survivor, Mark McEwen, annually emcees the event. Award winners and stroke survivors of all ages mingled at the evening event. Guests commented on how the event inspired them, "All of the honorees inspired me. Their stories touched my heart and have impacted my life tonight," said Kryssy Kimminau, a registered nurse. "This is exactly what I needed in my career; sometimes we need to be reminded why do what we do. Tonight was a true blessing."

Jim Baranski, Chief Executive Officer at National Stroke Association, opened the evening event by reminding the crowd about why the Awards were created. "There is no doubt that raising stroke awareness is one of the most important ways to make an impact on stroke no matter the reach or type of effort being made," he said. "By supporting the many stroke champions already raising awareness across the country in unique and effective ways, the RAISE Awards establishes a devoted and organized community engaged for the long term."

2012 Winners Listing

Elijah Rutherford, Most Creative
Learn more about Elijah Rutherford and the traveling bears at

Kathy Howard, Outstanding Individual
Kathy Howard is a stroke survivor and the founder of an organization committed to educating stroke survivors and their families that there is life after stroke. Almost three years ago, Ms. Howard started the Warrior Walk (now known as Stampede for Stroke), walking 11.8 miles from the hospital where she was first treated for her stroke to the hospital where she received outpatient treatment. She is also the founder of ABC Brigade, an organization committed to raising awareness about stroke prevention and educating stroke survivors and their families that there is life after stroke.

The Aphasia Lunch Bunch, Outstanding Support Group
The Aphasia Lunch Bunch is making an impact in the stroke and aphasia community in Las Vegas by helping their members cope with the life changes associated with stroke. The Aphasia Lunch Bunch is making an impact in the stroke and aphasia community in Las Vegas. The support group provides classes, activities, conference, educational materials and videos to members and their caregivers. Meetings are filled with sharing ideas and solutions, and classes on everything from alternate communications to cooking are eagerly attended. The goal is to assist every individual, family member and caregiver in coping with and conquering the difficulties in dealing with the life changes associated with stroke.

Children's Hemiplegia and Stroke Association (CHASA), Outstanding Group
CHASA is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1996 and is dedicated to improving the lives of children and families affected by pediatric stroke and other causes of hemiplegia. In addition to a focus on raising awareness about pediatric stroke to increase understanding and early diagnosis, CHASA provides three informational websites for its more than 5,000 members, plans and hosts an annual retreat for families of children who have hemiplegia, and supports local family events through a small grant program. CHASA also assists researchers in recruiting participants for research studies, provides financial assistance to help families in need purchase hand and foot braces, and provides college and vocational school and athletic scholarships for young adults who have hemiplegia. Learn more at

Barbara Wilder, Most Impactful
Barbara Wilder is a 14-year stroke survivor ambassador and volunteer who brings stroke survivors and their families hope, encouragement and her own story of survival. Ms. Wilder is a 14-year stroke survivor and ambassador of the Stroke Support Association in Long Beach, Calif. For the past 10 years, she has visited stroke survivors and their families at the Long Beach Memorial Community Hospital in California. Through her visits she brings new stroke patients and their families hope, encouragement and her own story of survival. Barbara also acts as a mentor and helps train new volunteers.

Joe Romenesko, Most Impactful Community Fundraising Event
Joe Romenesko, a stroke survivor, wakes up every morning intending to show the world that a stroke does not necessarily mean the end of a fulfilling and productive life. With some friends and fellow cyclists, he planned a fundraising event, then represented National Stroke Association by biking 42 miles in the 2012 TD Bank Five Boro Bike Tour. His event was attended by more than 800 people and raised more than $16,000 for stroke awareness.

About National Stroke Association
National Stroke Association is the only national organization in the U.S. that focuses 100 percent of its efforts on stroke by developing compelling education and programs focused on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support for all impacted by stroke. Its mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke. Visit to learn more.

Press Contact: Taryn Fort

SOURCE National Stroke Association