Posted by Lynn Bronikowski Apr 20 2017
Jim Ferrone wanted to honor the memory of his fellow fencing coach, Mitch Davis, who died of a stroke in August 2016. Within months he started organizing the Bucks County Fencing Academy’s Mitch Davis Memorial Foil Competition.
Ferrone, himself a stroke survivor, had been sidelined from fencing but still coached at the New Jersey fencing academy. And on March 5, he competed again while also raising funds for the National Stroke Association in Davis’ honor.
He set an initial goal of raising $380 in recognition of his stroke on 3/8 in 2009. Within 24 hours he topped it and doubled his goal to $750. He kept raising the bar each time a goal was met and ultimately raised $5,800.
“I had never done anything like this before,” said Ferrone, 43, of Farmington, N.J. “I was completely blown away by how supportive everyone was; it was a very organic kind of movement. People just really wanted to be a part of it.”
In addition to honoring Davis, Ferrone’s return to competition inspired many to support him.
“I was going to compete in this to raise awareness and to show that I could somewhat overcome my stroke,” said Ferrone. “We were doing something really positive that brought a lot of people together, so we really had a great time.”
Ferrone promoted his Fencing Against Stroke event via social media, particularly Facebook where he posted updates and asked people to share his posts. Not only did he post about his own stroke experience but posted educational information about stroke, including the FAST message.
Family and friends shared Ferrone’s links via email and word of mouth. On the day of the event, supporters held a bake sale, with more than a dozen contributing baked goods.
“People who didn’t have much money to give contributed baked goods to sell, or found a way to help out in some way,” said Ferrone.
Ferrone admits it was hard work but it didn’t feel like a lot of work because “we were doing something really positive that brought a lot of people together, so we really had a great time.”
For seven years, Ferrone was quiet about his stroke but after a longtime friend had a series of mini-strokes and then a fatal one, he thought it was time to do something.
“I felt like I had to do something now, so maybe others would recognize the symptoms and prevent the same thing from happening to others,” said Ferrone.
He now encourages others to raise funds and awareness for stroke.
“Don’t be afraid to jump in and give it a try,” he said. “I made everything up as I went along, as you really can’t do anything wrong. People will want to help and the more people you ask to help, the wider your circle becomes.
“Give people a reason to come together and they will. Last thing, enjoy the ride.”
To set up a personal fundraising page or create an event to raise funds and awareness for stroke, visit our Champion Support Center.
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