Stroke Comeback Center Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Stroke Comeback Center Celebrates 10th Anniversary

For 10 years the Stroke Comeback Center (SCC) has helped people with aphasia and their families receive communication support when these families have lost their insurance benefits. And on Thursday, Oct. 30, the SCC held its 10th Anniversary celebrating “The Art of Communication.” The event attracted close to 200 guests, including stroke survivors, family members and professionals.

The SCC is one of only about 10 centers in the United States and Canada providing services to stroke survivors. It has assisted 450 families, and serves close to 100 individuals each week in 40 groups through four speech-language professionals and two fitness instructors.

The SCC began in 2000 when John Phillips, former chairman of the Board of the SCC, sat down with Darlene Williamson, founder of the SCC, and pitched the idea of creating an organization that would help families with individuals who have experienced a stroke. Williamson was Phillips’s primary speech therapist while he was overcoming his stroke, but Williamson also had family members that were affected by the disease, making her all too aware of the support that stroke survivors need.

“My husband was still in the hospital when his insurance ran out,” said Williamson. “I started the SCC 10 years ago because I had worked in a hospital most of my career, and a day comes when you have to tell patients that your insurance has been cut off.” The SCC steps in when the insurance no longer covers the cost of treatment for stroke survivors still in need of care. “Everybody who survives a stroke deserves a Stroke Comeback Center,” said Williamson. With that in mind, Williamson and Phillips both agreed that they would love to expand to other locations granted a lot of work goes into it.

“I’ve been to the Center at least two or three times in the last few years,” said Del. Mark Keam (D-35), who was at the event. Keam’s mother had a mild stroke in the 1970s. “A stroke can happen one night and your life can change instantly. The Center is a great resource, and the people who have lived it are such a great resource.”

“I had my stroke Jan. 11, 2011,” said Bonita Beaudoin, 63. “I came here, I listened for four weeks and then I talked. My speech is much better.” Beaudoin, like many other stroke survivors, maintains a spirit of strength and a refusal to let the disease keep her down. “People do die, [but] there are also people who’ve gotten completely better,” said Beaudoin with assurance.

Those who suffer from aphasia have difficulty reading, writing, listening and speaking, resulting in isolation and loneliness. The SCC, as a community, changes that by providing laughter and hope. The evening of the 10th Anniversary Celebration Gala concluded with a video which those who had survived a stroke declared confidence in their ability to speak, read and write again. “You handle the stroke,” said Beaudoin. “You don’t let it get you down.”