Walking Their Way to a Stroke-Free Life

Posted on: Tuesday 06/11/2012

It was a sunny day filled with a lighthearted vibe. Clusters of sports enthusiasts were stretching their sleepy limbs and engaging in casual conversations around the beautiful Taman Tasik Titiwangsa. However, this was a Sunday morning like no other, as wheelchair-bound individuals stood out amidst the crowd.

In conjunction with World Stroke Day on 29 October, The National Stroke Association of Malaysia (NASAM) pioneered the first ‘Walk for Health' 2012 walkathon, where stroke survivors undertook the challenge to complete the 2.5km loop around the lake. This may seem like an effortless task for many, but for these survivors, regaining physical activity after a stroke and the recovery process takes much courage and tenacity.

Organizing chairman Chris Low lauded this event as a success, especially in raising awareness on living a healthy lifestyle from a young age. "Nowadays, stroke victims are becoming younger so it is important for parents to inculcate the habit of exercising from an early age, and walking is a cost-effective way of doing so."

The youngest participant of the day was 7-year-old Jordan Ong, who had pledged to raise RM 5,000 through this campaign via PeopleGiving. Even as he blew the candles on his 6th birthday cake, Jordan had had four heart surgeries since he was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Unfortunately, his last surgery brought on a stroke that left him with limited physical mobility to one side of his body.

Josephine Ong was a proud mother as she witnessed her son cross the finish line at the end of the 2.5km walk. "Jordan has always been an active boy and has improved tremendously ever since joining NASAM," she said. Looking at him bouncing around with much joy and spirited disposition, it was hard to imagine that this was someone who had gone through so much hardship from a young age. His campaign exceeded the RM 5,000 target with a donation to date of RM 5,180.

The Courageous 13 was another initiative featuring thirteen stroke survivors from NASAM PJ, who bravely made it through the walk, some even on two legs with much support from their family members. Hee Gan Nam, Poh Hock Leong, Wong Man Huat, Richard Yeong Kum Fatt, Neil Rode, Wong Yuen Wah, William Tew Meng Yau, Mak Tuck Whye, Albert Anthony, Khalil Ibrahim, Lee Wai Wai, Suboth Kumar and Chin Kew raised RM 3,040, surpassing their RM 1,500 goal.

According to statistics, one in six people worldwide will suffer a stroke in their lifetime, and every six seconds, someone, somewhere, regardless of age or gender, will die of stroke. To drive home this fact, every event participant that day donned the campaign shirt emblazoned with the words "1 in 6".

In Malaysia alone, over 50,000 stroke cases are reported each year. NASAM recognizes the importance of providing rehabilitation services for stroke survivors to live as normal a life as possible within the limits of their disabilities, and of raising awareness and educating the public on stroke prevention. Today, NASAM operates eight centres nationwide: in Petaling Jaya and Ampang (Selangor), Penang, Ipoh (Perak), Malacca, Kuantan (Pahang), Kota Kinabalu (Sabah), and Johor Bahru (Johor).

Indeed, the ‘Walk for Health' walkathon garnered lots of praise from all participants that day. Regardless of physical mobility, age or fitness level, everyone enjoyed themselves in celebration of a healthy lifestyle. The happiness was echoed in the radiant look of stroke survivor Leow Chow Kuen, who expressed his comfort at being outdoors and enjoying nature. "Being here has given me more energy; I will definitely participate again next year," he said (translated from Mandarin). And we are sure there will be a next year as NASAM passionately advocates that ‘There is life after stroke'. 

 

By Annabelle Yeoh
(Volunteer of PeopleGiving)

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