Friday, December 19, 2014

The Central Florida Stroke Club

There are groups like it all over the country. They are stroke survivors and caregivers gathering and sharing ideas, taking comfort in talking with and seeing people just like them. Seeing people just like me. They are The Central Florida Stroke Club and guess what? It's Christmas time and it's time for their annual Christmas luncheon.

Let me give you a bit of it's history. Central Floridians have been welcomed with understanding and open arms to the Central Florida Stroke Club since 1973. That's over 40 years. That's also word for word from their website. They've been an oasis, of sorts, for a long time. It's a place that survivors and caregivers have gone since I was a freshman in college.

And that's important.

Feeling like you're not alone, that there are other people dealing with the same things you're dealing with, is very comforting indeed. They meet once a month, they have a picnic in the summer, and in December they celebrate the holidays together at a luncheon party.

The president of the club is Karen Kalich, a Recreation Therapist.
She was the Master of Ceremonies at the party and in her day job is the person these folks turn to for help and guidance. You will not find a better person and you will not find a more suitable ringmaster for a get together like this.

They had a gift exchange, a white elephant as it's called (something I've never heard of before) and here's how it works... you bring a gift, it might be something you find around the house (can you say re-gift?) and everyone has a raffle ticket where everyone is a winner and get's something. There are more rules but..
It wears me out just writing this but it is big time fun. There was also a 50/50 drawing where one lucky survivor got some cash and who can't use extra money for Santa? Man it was fun and that place was electric. We had other business like passing around goodies that someone had baked and singing We Wish You a Merry Christmas.

There was more but a good time was had by all.

As we were leaving I talked to a fellow stroke survivor who used a walker. We talked about driving and she told me she hoped to drive her car one day. And then she mentioned that her stroke was 11 months ago.

I jumped right on it--"11 months?" I said, "As time goes on you'll see that where you are now is not where you'll be then." You could see in her eyes that driving was something to shoot for, something that would make all the therapy worth it.

In that moment we weren't stroke survivors. Just people helping people. And that's what it's all about.

For more information on the Central Florida Stroke Club go to

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