ALBANY — More than 200 riders joined the American Stroke Association’s CycleNation event on Tuesday, Oct. 18 at The Armory at Russell Sage College. The ride boosts mental and physical health while raising critical funds to stop the cycle of stroke across the nation. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of disability in older age.
The ride featured 200 riders who came together to pedal for a purpose. Funds raised through CycleNation benefit the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association – the leading voluntary health organization focused on heart and brain health for all.
“I want to thank everyone who worked on this event,” said Joan Clifford, Senior Director of Alumni Relations at Russell Sage College, Executive Director of the Russell Sage Alumnae Association and chair of the 2022 CycleNation. “The funds we raised tonight will fight stroke in our community and across the nation. We also raised awareness at the event about how to prevent stroke and stay healthy. I hope everyone will focus on their blood pressure, eating well and exercising.”
“Today’s event put a spotlight on stroke, the nation’s No. 5 killer,” said Mandeep Sidhu, M.D., cardiologist, associate professor of medicine, assistant dean of medical education and student research and scholarly activity at Albany Medical College, and president of the Board of Directors of the American Heart Association in the Capital Region. “Albany Med Health System and the American Heart Association are working together to improve the brain and heart health of Capital Region residents, and the money we raised today will help fund research and education to change the statistics around stroke. We also raised awareness and took action to improve our own cardiovascular health.”
Jennifer DeFazio of Glenmont shared her story of surviving a stroke.
“On my 43rd birthday I suffered a stroke,” DeFazio said. “At my office in Colonie, on a call with my boss, I lost all bearings of everything around me. My arms became weak, my legs began to collapse and I fell over on to my desk, but was thankfully able to scream for help. My coworkers called 911 and EMS arrived almost immediately. After a CT scan showing I had a severed vertebral artery, followed by a MRI that showed I had a stroke, I was admitted into Albany Med. It was a very long first 2 years but today I feel great and am more than grateful to have survived. I eat very well, exercise daily, take and teach classes at the Bethlehem YMCA.” Ellen Abbott, a stroke survivor and past Stroke Ambassador to the Capital Region Heart Walk and Run, received the Paula Symanski Legacy Award for her work raising awareness about stroke on behalf of the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association. Abbott and Symanski often worked together before Symanski passed away in 2018.
“I’m really honored to receive the Paula Symanski Legacy Award,” Abbott said. “It’s really a family award because my husband and sons are usually right by my side supporting the American Heart Association. It brings me a lot of joy and hope when I share my story that someone will remember it, and the acronym FAST, and get someone they help they need. Paula really encouraged me to share my story and I know whenever I see this award on my shelf, I will remember my dear friend and all the work she did to promote events like CycleNation – and remember to share my story.”
Each year approximately 800,000 people in the U.S. have a stroke. 1 While approximately 80% of those who have a stroke will survive, but the majority of these will remain with some degree of physical impairment or disability. Research shows that up to 80% of strokes may be prevented. Getting the recommended amount of physical activity is linked to lower risk of diseases, stronger bones and muscles, improved mental health and cognitive function and lower risk of depression.
Knowing F.A.S.T. and responding quickly in a stroke emergency may mean the difference between recovery and disability- Face Drooping, Arm Weakness, Speech Difficulty, Time to Call 911.
— American Heart Association