Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Raise Awards

Raise stands for Raising Awareness In Stroke Excellence. That pretty much says it all. 

The Raise Awards is the brainchild of National Stroke Association and they’re like the Academy Awards, but different.  I’ll let the Association tell it, “a national awards program that annually recognizes individuals and groups for taking stroke awareness activities to new heights.”

However you say it, that’s pretty cool and I’ll tell you why. To have people get their hands dirty, to get in the trenches to help stroke survivors, and to help combat stroke? That SHOULD be applauded.                                   
And these awards do just that.            

I was honored to host the inaugural event held in Denver, in October of 2011. (National Stroke Association is headquartered in nearby Centennial)  I was excited to be part of it, I know how much they helped me, I couldn’t wait to see them in action helping others.

I landed in Denver and it was at the airport that I met Tom Watson III and his lovely bride, Elizabeth. But I didn’t know his importance at the time. They picked us up, all the Raise Awards people, and carted us downtown to the hotel where we were staying. Strangers. Tom and Elizabeth took that ride with me and I didn’t know he was one of the honorees, in fact I was surprised to see him at the dinner that night.

The Raise Awards were held that evening at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.  A great affair and I’ve been to a lot of affairs. One of the recipients was Henry Winkler aka The Fonz.  He 's always been one of my favorites. Would you believe his mother suffered a stroke and lost her hand and upper arm mobility?  Because of that she lost her independence. I didn't know that. That stroke connection helped us bond.

He introduced Tom.

Tom is from Dayton, is an artist, a graphic designer, a father (he and Elizabeth have two wonderful children-Alden and Gabe), and is a stroke survivor. He’s also tough as they come and an inspiration. Tom had a massive brain stem stroke and doctors thought he would not live through the weekend and if he survived they expected him to be a quadriplegic.

He proved them wrong on both counts.

After much rehab Tom is back walking, painting, driving and playing with his kids. He showed us that his will and determination won out over stroke and for that he was awarded the Raise Award for Outstanding Individual.
Me and my friend Tom Watson III
There were other honorees, each one a hero, helping people who NEED that help.

The Raise Awards are important. It's important for other survivors to see what can be done. It's important to trumpet the 'good guys' out there. It's also important to celebrate their good work.

They say you sleep like a baby when you do the right thing. I slept very well that night.

I hosted the second Raise Awards in 2012 but that's another story for another day. 

The Raise Awards are still on, they are now an online event. Go to to find out more.

You can also find out more about Tom and his art at

Follow me on twitter (@mcewenmark) or on Facebook ( and visit my website

No comments:

Post a Comment