Monday, December 19, 2022



If you have visited our United Stroke Alliance or Stroke Camp web sites recently you will have noticed a significant change in them. We have partnered with a different web development company to help us keep up with technology and provide support in a timely manner with reasonable cost.

We are working to make sure everything gets transferred to the new websites in an orderly and timely manner. 

If you notice anything missing that you liked to see in the new sites please let us know by calling 1-309-688-5450 or emailing

If there is anything you'd like to see posted in this blog please let us know that too.


Sunday, June 26, 2022

7 Ways Caregivers Can Take Time To Care for Themselves


This article is by Harry Cline. His website is The New Caregiver’s Comprehensive Resource: Advice, Tips, and Solutions from Around the Web. He has put together an article for new caregivers on the all-important topic of self-care.
7 Ways Caregivers Can Take Time
To Care for Themselves

Being a full-time caregiver is an emotionally and physically taxing
job. People with that level of selflessness often find it hard to take time for self-care, but they must. Consider these seven easy ways, shared below by Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp, that you can take care of yourself while you take care of others.

1. Get Some Exercise

Exercise is the easiest thing to throw away when you're short on free time. However, it's a necessity for your physical and mental health. You don't need several hours a day and a gym membership to get in some exercise. Simply take the stairs rather than the elevator or go for a brief walk during the day when you have a break. Even 15 minutes in the sunlight can change your overall mood.

2. Prioritize Nutrition

It's easy to grab something processed and unhealthy when you're on the move. Fast food is a quick fix that allows you to get right back to work quickly. However, these options offer little to no nutritional value If you want to keep your energy up. Take some time on the weekend to plan your snacks and meals for the week. You can still grab a burger every now and then, but you'll feel better overall with a well-balanced diet.

3. Meditate to Reduce Stress

Caregiving is a stressful job. You need an outlet to help you reduce stress daily. Research shows that meditation improves brain health and lowers cortisol levels when practiced regularly. Incorporate a few minutes of meditation into your morning every day to help reduce stress.

4. Spend Time With Loved Ones

Use your free time to nurture your relationships with the ones you love. This can be difficult for an introvert, but everyone needs community in their lives. Spending time with your loved ones will make you feel more connected to the world outside of your caregiving position.

5. Take Up a Relaxing Hobby

Hobbies are a great way to relax when you have a high-stress job. Think about something that you love to do and start investing more time into that hobby. Knitting, puzzles, yoga, baking, cooking, painting, and dancing are all excellent hobbies that produce more endorphins and eliminate stress. If you enjoy being outside, gardening has many benefits. You can soak up vitamin D, get some exercise, and grow nutritious foods to add to your diet.

6. Take a Short Trip

Allow yourself a weekend getaway every now and then. If you prefer some alone time, take a spa trip or go to your favorite beach location. If you want to create some quality memories with your family, take them along with you.

7. Appreciate the Simple Things

Don't forget to appreciate the simple things in life that can bring you joy. For a book lover, taking the time to sit down and read a good book can rejuvenate the mind. Slow down and take a bubble bath when you have a chance. It's a great way to relax. Take the time to cook a delicious meal and enjoy the finished product. You can find peace in the small joys.

Keep in mind that taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of others. Keep these tips with you to use when you start to feel burnt out or tired. It's okay to stop and help yourself when you're in need as well.

Harry Cline's email address:

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

United Stroke Alliance Videos



This blog post contains many of the videos we have placed on our United Stroke Alliance Facebook page that I think the general public will find interesting and, hopefully, useful. Stroke awareness and prevention is United Stroke Alliance's main goal. You may visit our webpage at

The United Stroke Alliance Facebook group page is open to, dedicated to and limited to stroke survivors and their caregivers. All requests to join will be monitored by the United Stroke Alliance Facebook group administrator.  

I will be adding more videos to this blog as they are posted on the United Stroke Alliance Facebook page so visit the Archive link often. New videos will be added to the top of this blog post so you won't have to scroll down to find them. Currently we no longer have Facebook videos available on Facebook that are older than 30 days.

Any comments for this blog post will be appreciated, however, keep in mind, all comments are monitored before they are published. One important warning: To prevent spammers, imbedding links in your comment will result in your comment being rejected.

Videos are best displayed in full screen mode. On most devices, tapping or clicking on the video image will enlarge it a bit and display a small square in the bottom right corner of the image. Tapping or clicking on that small square should fill the entire screen with the video image.  

Tai Chi from a chair. Demonstrated by OSF Saint Francis Hospital students!

Tai Chi from a chair.  27 minute video

Ziplining at night at camp.

Stroke survivors ziplining at camp.

Marylee talks about how Amazon and Google devices can make life easier and more entertaining.  

Amazon and Google Devices   28 minute video


Marylee and her grand kids are discussing ways to de-clutter the house. Part 1 of 2


Marylee and her grand kids are discussing ways to de-clutter the house. Part 2 of 2


Cheri and Kelly Show you how to Tye Dye Stuff.

Cheri Kelly Tye Dye  23 minute video


Marylee shows how to liven up your baseball party with special baseball themed treats.

Marylee's Baseball Treats  23 minute video


Marylee talks about her experience with Aphasia in stroke survivors.

Experience With Aphasia  30 minute video


Marylee and CT Gabbert discuss home safety ideas for stroke survivors.

Home Safety Ideas  36 minute video


Marylee's 17 year old granddaughter has trained leader dogs for blind people and intends to train more. She tells her experiences in this video.

Fostering Leader Dogs  19 minute video 


Katie Lemkemann, trained chef and registered nurse at St. Francis Medical 

Center, Peoria, Illinois, presents some summer time fun cooking 
garden fresh creations.

Summer Time Fun Cooking  15 minute video


Marylee interviews four PT and OT OSF St. Francis graduates on stroke therapy as they emphasize how important it is to not give up on therapy.

Don't Give Up on Therapy.  29 minute video


Tuesday, April 12, 2022





Jean Carlson | Staff Volunteer United Stroke Alliance 

Well they say the Lord works in mysterious ways, and he did just that for me! Hi everyone, my name is Jean Carlson. In 2006 my cousin Heather had a stroke. A good friend of mine, Cheri told me about this stroke camp retreat weekend I should take her to. So that’s exactly what I did. In 2008 I signed us up and we went to camp! Having no idea what camp entailed, we were off to see what it was all about being both nervous and excited to go. 

Little did I know how much fun I would have that weekend. We went for 2 years in a row and then I became a mother to a sweet little girl. So I took some time off and decided I wanted to go back and be a volunteer for a camp this time. So, I did just that. Such a humbling and emotional experience for me. I then knew this was my passion and I was exactly where I needed to be. So, I continued volunteering and a few years later I had a sweet little boy so I took a bit more time off. 

Which leads me to 2017 where I was ready to come back being a volunteer once again, but little did I know I would be asked to become Retreat and Refresh Stroke Camp staff. Through the grace of God and my amazing family, I have found my calling with this wonderful organization. Stroke Camp is very near and dear to my heart and I absolutely love meeting so many people and listening to their stories. We laugh, we cry (everyone who knows me knows I cry at camp all weekend), we get frustrated, happy, and sad all together in that weekend. We have this special bond that no one can take away from us. I love for stroke survivors to see that they aren’t alone in this world and to give them the passion to never give up and keep fighting every single day to get better. As we get ready to kick off this season of camps, I can’t wait to meet my new campers and my returning campers! I’m so very blessed by you all!

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Stroke Survivor Story



This story is currently posted on our United Stroke Alliance web site, . I'm posting it here because many of you may not know that the above web site is there for you to visit. There is a wealth of knowledge there about us and what we do to spread the word about stroke prevention and recovery that you should learn about.
Mike Gamble - Stroke Survivor Story (Arizona)

SC: How did your stroke affect you?

MG: I didn’t know what went on. I woke up one morning and everything went haywire. My wife said I ended up on the floor, they flew me by helicopter down to [the hospital]. I had a brain aneurysm, and I had a 10-hour operation on my brain. [My doctor] told me nine out of ten guys that have this procedure don’t make it. So that’s why I’m happy to be here. Well, I was four months in a coma, and after the coma they put me into a rehab center. So my whole right side was affected. Then they came in and said to me, “There’s no more money, the insurance company won’t pay any more.” At that point I was finished with rehab. I didn’t have much rehab in the first place because every time I tried to do rehab I’d get dizzy, I’d get sick. It was seven months before I got back home.

SC: What do you want people who have had a stroke to know?

MG: I want to make sure people know that when you have a stroke and you are a stroke survivor, there is life after stroke. You got to get in with a good group. Our [stroke support] group is a big family. Our group is fabulous. We’re constantly on the phone checking with each other. If one of us goes to the hospital we get in there to see if anybody needs anything, just like family. So I want everybody to know that there is life after stroke.

The other thing is, you’ll never be the same, so get used to a new normal. Figure out what your new normal is. With the help of the group, it’s easy. You met [the music therapist at camp]. She is the greatest gal, she’s our music director. We have a great time in music. We write songs and we play them and sing them, and [the music therapist] has a thousand songs. She does a great job.

And I do dancing. Even in a wheelchair, I do dancing. I do aqua therapy in the swimming pool, where I walk the length of the pool holding onto the bars. And I can do small things around the house.

These are the things that you need to understand that are available after stroke. As Dr. Patrick told me, “You got to keep trying, keep fighting.” And that’s so true. Yes, I can give up and go to my bed and just hang in my bed all day, but it would get me nothing.

SC: What was your greatest accomplishment since your stroke?

MG: My greatest accomplishment? I think it’s still happening. It’s day-to-day living. It’s pushing and progressing every single day. There are some days that I don’t progress. I have good days, I have bad days, and I have worse days. But you got to get up and keep going. You can’t let it get you down.

I can take very few steps, I can walk with my walker a little, but my whole right side has no feeling. My fingers wouldn’t even work. So I just kept pulling them out and then closing them down, pulling them out and closing them down. You do that a couple hundred times they get smart enough to work.

They told me when they released me out of rehab, “You’re not going to get any more than you got. Don’t expect anything more than what you have right now. Your right side will never regenerate; it will never come back.” Well that’s B.S. It’s coming back, it’s coming back.