Jason A. Duprat, Entrepreneur, Healthcare Practitioner, and Host of the Healthcare Entrepreneur Academy podcast speaks with Rachel Groves and Ray Forsythe, Co-Founders of the Young Empowered Stroke Survivors (YESS) Foundation. They walk us through their experiences as stroke survivors and the challenges they overcame during their recovery. They also share how their foundation assists young stroke survivors and how best to support the foundation.
- Rachel is a nurse practitioner. She was 32 years old and married with two young children when she suffered from a bilateral vestibular stroke that made her temporarily lose her ability to see, talk, and walk.
- Rachel still gets stroke symptoms occasionally, but she and her family have learned to live with her “quirks.” However, she no longer can work full-time due to cognitive fatigue which affects her ability to think, process, and speak.
- According to the American Heart Association, between 2000 and 2010, the number of people aged 25 to 44 who were hospitalized with stroke increased nearly 43%. Those numbers have gone up since COVID.
- According to a national survey, three out of four adults would delay seeking medical care after experiencing warning symptoms or a transient ischemic attack (TIA).
- Ray was 41, married with 6 children, at the top of his career in the automotive luxury industry, and in peak health when he had a hemorrhagic stroke located in the central brain stem. It temporarily affected his ability to speak, see, and function.
- He wasn't expected to live and if he did, he wouldn't be able to walk or speak. He pushed himself during his inpatient rehab at Brooks Rehabilitation. The true challenge came when he was discharged because he had no one to talk and he felt lost.
- He first met Rachel at a stroke awareness event in 2019. They founded the YESS Foundation out of sheer frustration as they discovered a lack of support for young stroke survivors.
- They want to step out, pay it forward, and make a difference. They believe you choose to become a victim or a victor. It takes grit, persistence, and dedication.
- Within the foundation, both Rachel and Ray run support groups.
- Aside from financial or medical support, stroke survivors want people to listen to them and understand what they are going through.
- Ray and Rachel have relied on friends and family for financial support, and they have also invested their own money into the foundation.
- There were several fundraising events planned but then COVID happened. Currently, they're receiving funding from private donors.
- You can donate to the YESS Foundation through the website or Amazon Smile. See the Resources section for the website link.
- They are planning a kickstart event with the Seattle Seahawks, where Ray's son plays football.
- They're also working on a Buddy Support program with UCF where speech therapy and physical therapy students accompany families on outings to help with patient care so family members can relax.
- The YESS Foundation is looking for volunteers to deliver meals, bring stroke survivors to appointments, and provide “buddy support.”
3 KEY POINTS:
- The YESS Foundation is a grassroots nonprofit that promotes stroke awareness in young people and helps support young stroke survivors on their recovery journey.
- Running a nonprofit and raising money to keep it going is tough. It's just like running a business but profits are distributed across the nonprofit to fund its services.
- The YESS Foundation is accepting financial aid and volunteers so the foundation can provide a variety of services to help not only stroke survivors but also their families.
“It doesn't matter how big or small – whether it's a donation or time – it's all helpful and it's positively impacting families.” – Rachel Groves
“It's not tangible items these stroke survivors want. They want somebody to understand what they're going through” – Ray Forsythe
YESS Foundation website: https://yessfoundation.org/
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