DOWNEY – More than 300 participants and 75 volunteers participated in “Roll Around the Ranch,” the Fifth Annual Stroke Walk and Fair held at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center last Saturday.
In addition to Rancho stroke survivors and family members, a number of other groups took part in the celebration, including members of the Rancho Renegades Wheelchair Sports team and Marines in training. But the focus was clearly on those who had overcome strokes to participate in the 1K and 5K walk/run/roll races that were the heart of the event.
Some ran, some walked with altered gaits, and others moved forward with the aid of canes or walkers. Some rolled their wheelchairs while others had loved ones roll them. Some, such as Hector “Juice” Duron, even completed both the 1K and 5K.
The common thread for those who entered was that they were determined to finish their race. And no matter how physically or emotionally challenged, they did just that. Everyone who finished was given a medal that was specially created for the event.
After the day’s races were completed, Rancho’s Jacquelin Perry Institute Back Lot was transformed into a sea of success, with hundreds of medals proudly dangling from participants’ necks on colorful red, white and blue ribbons.
“Seeing people who have graduated from Rancho’s inpatient programs and go on to participate in this event shows the power of the human spirit,” said Co-Event Director and Rancho Physical Therapist Erin Caudill.
In addition to the 1K and 5K, the festivities included a warm-up sessions led by the Laker Girls and a Kids Fun Run. “Many of the participants had attended the event in previous years and were working on personal goals to beat last year’s times or to increase the distance they covered,” said Covey Lazouras, a Rancho Physical Therapist and “Roll Around the Ranch” volunteer.
More than 20 community vendors provided information to help stroke survivors prevent future strokes and those in the general population to avoid ever having a stroke. “About two-thirds of Rancho’s patients have experienced strokes and other neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease, ALS and Cerebral Palsy,” said Rancho’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mindy Aisen.
“As America’s baby boomers America age, we will see the number of individuals with these serious neurological conditions nearly double over the next two decades,” she said. “Events such as ‘Roll Around the Ranch’ help people become more aware of stroke symptoms and risk factors. This is an important part of our community outreach efforts to help reduce the incidence of these deadly neurological disorders.”
After the running, walking and rolling was done, entertainment was provided by Rancho graduate patient and singing sensation Sherry Pruitt and the Delgado Brothers. There were also touching testimonials from former Rancho patients who are now stroke survivors.
“The noble struggle of those who showed the courage and determination to overcome their physical challenges made it a rewarding day for all who attended,” said Rancho Recreation Therapist Tim Taylor, who volunteered at the event despite a back injury that limited him to riding a scooter. A key member of the “Roll Around the Ranch” team that works throughout the year to make this event possible, Tim was not about to miss the results of all his hard work. “Seeing our patients achieve their goals has special meaning for all of us who have been part of their fight to return to meaningful lives,” he said.
“Events like this make coming to work rewarding,” said Rancho Physical Therapist and Co-Event Leader Angelica Molina. Then, with a smile across her face, she went to work on next year’s “Roll Around the Ranch” event.
For more information, call the Rancho Los Amigos Foundation at (562) 401-7053 or visit www.rancho.org.