Sunday, June 2, 2013

Strike Out Stroke™ - Peoria Chiefs baseball May 23, 2013

For the previous four years, the Class AAA Peoria Chiefs, affiliated with the Chicago Cubs as their farm team, has set aside one day each year in their Home Game schedule to allow us to present stroke awareness to their fans attending the game. This year we have the honor of continuing this event with the Chiefs who discontinued their affiliation with the Cubs just this year and have become the new St. Louis Cardinal farm team. This 5th Annual Strike Out Stroke™ game with the Peoria Chiefs was held on Thursday, May 23rd at the newly named Dozer Park adjacent to down town Peoria, Illinois.

It was a wonderful evening with more survivors and caregivers in attendance than ever before!

We could not have done it without the generous sponsorship of:

Illinois Neurological Institute (INI),
Central States Media,
RE/MAX Martin & Lenkemann Group, and
PIP Printing.

The evening was filled with stroke awareness and education. Fans were given F.A.S.T. magnets when they came through the gates and also had the opportunity to walk through the MEGA Brain and take a short quiz on stroke awareness, detection and prevention at ELSIE our computer learning center.

Prior to the game, during the month of May, our Stroke Camp Coordinator, Lauren Kramer, and others visited 10 schools in the Peoria area teaching students about stroke awareness, detection, prevention, and how to apply the acronym F.A.S.T. to tell if a person is experiencing a stroke and needs immediate hospital attention. Jan Jahnel and Teresa Swanson-Devlin, Stroke Coordinators for INI, attended the classes and helped educate the students.  Also in attendance at the classes were numerous stroke survivors and caregivers from the Peoria area.  Over 600 posters were judged by the Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp staff and volunteers for best of show, and the student with the winning poster is given the ride and experience of a life time.  

The winner of the poster contest is awarded with a flight onto the ball diamond's center field in the OSF Life Flight helicopter,

and the honor of throwing out the first pitch of the game. 

Congratulations to DJ Rodgers from Peoria Christian Middle School! 

DJ was accompanied by his father, Derrick Rodgers.

Is that a proud papa? Yes, it is!

And this is what DJ made to earn this most coveted award:

As part of the pre-game activities, attending stroke survivors participated in making up a Dream Team. They were each assigned a position on the field, and took that position with the Chief's player and were announced with the player during the starting line up. They also got an autographed ball by that player.

Dream Team members were Sandy Avery,

Jackie Devall, shown here with her son Hunter,

Bill Hart,

Lyle Nannen,

John Nunley,

Randy Randall,

Dawn Robinson,

Bob Scott,

Mary Ellen Snider,

and Doug Smay.

Other stroke survivors attending but not on the field are:

Larry Morris (survivor), with his daughter Lori. Lori is a librarian and teacher at the school DJ is attending.

This is Larry Morris' wife, Georgia, hamming it up in front of the camera with Associate Director, Larry Schaer. Georgia is a long time volunteer, contributing her time and talents for the camp, as well as being caregiver for her husband Larry.

Mert Berlett (survivor) and her daughter,

           Mel Hisey (survivor) and his wife Dora,

Denise McGowan (survivor), her husband Ken and daughter, Emily.

Mary Kay Pilat of Illinois Neurological Institute and her husband Tom are much valued volunteers at camp events.

And introducing the Directors of Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp:

Marylee Nunley - Executive Director

This is Marylee being interviewed by Nathan Baliva, Director of Media & Baseball Operations for the Chiefs. Marylee does interviews very well.

Larry Schaer - Associate Director

This is Larry keeping his wife Bonnie from entering without a ticket. Larry, check in her left hand. She has a ticket.  

Lauren Kramer - Stroke Camp Coordinator

Lauren is also responsible for organizing the poster contest for the fifth grade classes in the area, as well as all of our camps we have throughout the year and, as you can see, an excellent on-field and dugout coat check girl.

Thank you to Illinois Neurological Institute for making commemorative baseball cards for the Dream Team members and for being the major sponsor for this year's Strike Out Stroke™ event.

INI folks whom we could not do without:

Teresa Swanson Devlin,
Jan Jahnel, and
Dr. Wong

Dr Wong delivered the on-field welcome before the National Anthem.

These three have done so much for the camp, we are forever indebted to them.

We’d also like to extend our thanks to the following businesses who sponsored an inning and donated $50 to Stroke Camp for each strike out in their inning:

Mid Illinois Companies,
Legacy Insurance,
Chem-Dry Clean Masters,
Peoria Communications,
Gabberts Cleaning,
State Bank of Speer,
Peoria Logo,
Total Income Tax,
DBA Marketing, and
CT Gabbert Remodeling & Construction.

There were a total of 13 strike outs in the first nine innings for $650 in donations to Stroke Camp!

For those of you keeping score, it was a fantastic game, and the Peoria Chiefs won the ball game over the Kane County Cougars, 9-8 in 14 innings.


  1. DJ and I had a great time at the game and really enjoyed learning more about your organization.

    1. Derrick,
      Thank you for the kind words. I am so honored that DJ and you took an interest in us and what we're trying to do, and that we were able to give DJ an experience of a lifetime. Thanks for your support. DJ is a good kid and you are a good dad for encouraging him and sharing the ballpark experience with him.


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