A stroke of inspirationDave Roberts has logged more than 900 hours of volunteer service with PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center since April of 2008. While he spends some time as a clerical volunteer in the emergency room, he really shines as a stroke ambassador. He visits patients who have had strokes and need encouragement on the path to recovery.
He never tires of telling the unusual tale of his journey. When Dave was 25, he suffered two major blood clots near his heart as well as a large cancerous tumor behind his left eye. Dave was left with little use of the entire right side of his body, and cognitive challenges with speech, memory and sequencing. However, his trauma gifted him with an upbeat personality that is infectious to his coworkers and the patients whose lives he is touching.
Dave, now 32, volunteers with other stroke ambassadors at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center events that support health and well-being as well as charity walks in the spring such as the MS Walk, the Great Strides walk for cystic fibrosis, and especially the American Heart Association heart and stroke walk.
At events like these, Dave happily demonstrates his SaeboFlex and SaeboReach braces, which allow him to grip with his fingers and extend his elbow for therapeutic and practical purposes. And he permanently wears a right-side lower leg brace that stabilizes his foot and allows his legs to support his tall frame. Just his presence at these events inspires people to ask questions, he said, and he is eager to tell his story.
"It ends up being a wonderful time," he said. "I talk to a lot of people who have had strokes, but don’t know what to do next."
Dave also attends stroke support groups and encourages patients and caregivers to tell their own stories. Then he can just listen, which is what so many in recovery need.
It’s been seven years since Dave’s doctors gave him five years to live, when he couldn’t walk, talk or cook a meal. Today, he has visited more than 400 PeaceHealth Southwest patients and shows no signs of slowing down.
Though he is always smiling, volunteering for PeaceHealth Southwest brings out a deeper feeling of joy for Dave.
"I am even more smiley and happy when I pull into the parking lot, just waiting for people to ask me questions."
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PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center
400 NE Mother Joseph PlVancouver, WA 98664