Monday, September 7, 2015

Survivors take center stage at Stroke Camp

By Monica Vest Wheeler
Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp Staff Volunteer

One of my favorite moments during a Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp weekend is watching our survivors shine "on stage" during the Saturday night entertainment.

We have some mighty talented and amazing stroke survivors who don't let anything stop them from having a very good time, no, make that GREAT time when our audience of survivors, caregivers and volunteers are called upon to be involved. Executive Director Marylee Nunley says we are our own best entertainment, and that is one of the most important experiences of the camp weekend, being in the spotlight.

I've witnessed our survivors do everything from dancing to singing to telling jokes and everything in-between because they're given an opportunity to perform, show their talents and shine. We see the immense power of these moments because not too many forums "in the real world" give them this stage. That so-called "real world" often overlooks and frankly ignores what stroke survivors can do and are willing to do if only given the ears and eyes of an audience.

I often find myself filled with silent, yet joyous, tears as I watch survivors learn new or re-learn old talents and passions. Human beings need to be heard and seen and given a stage on which they can express themselves. It's part of our nature. Creative expression is a very powerful urge that is not extinguished by stroke. In some survivors, it is actually heightened.

I'm so proud of our survivors who find the incredible courage to take the mic or kick up their heels … How can you not love them even more!

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