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Stroke Survivor Hits the Comeback Trail

Posted by Lynn Bronikowski Feb 15 2017

In March 2006, Sharon Quigley woke up in the middle of the night feeling funny. Her arm was tingly and when she went to stand up, she couldn’t.

She called her mother, who had her taken by ambulance to a hospital where she spent several days after being diagnosed with a Transient Ischemic Attack—often called a mini-stroke.

“It was the weekend of my kid’s birthday and I told my doctor I wanted to be home,” recalls Quigley of Richmond Va. “He told me, ‘You have to stay if you want to be around for his graduation.’”

Quigley was 36 and learned her stroke was caused by a patent foramen ovale (PFO) which is a hole in the heart that didn't close the way it should have after birth.

“During my recovery, I knew I had to be around for my kids,” said the mother of two who were 11 and 15 at the time of her stroke. “Walking became very important to me. I had to do it because it made me stronger and healthier and got me going.”

Within months a friend convinced her to take up running and in 2010 she completed the first of nine marathons, including two New York City Marathons that she ran on behalf of the National Stroke Association and raised more than $6,500.

“I think I’m extremely fortunate that I’ve been able to recover and rebound with no side effects,” said Quigley. “I had an outpouring of support from my friends and family. Now to be able to help people who might never be able to walk a mile is very meaningful to me.”

She’s also found a home in the running community and today is co-head coach of Team Bellemeade which meets weekly on the southside of Richmond City at Bellemeade Community Center.

“I’m not at all an expert on running but it’s a chance to give back to the community,” said Quigley, who also is active in Sports Backers, a nonprofit that organizes races and aims to transform Richmond into the most physically active community in the nation.

“I was active before my stroke but took up running after my stroke,” said Quigley. “It was the best way to get back into conditioning.”

Now she’s set her sights on the National Stroke Association’s Comeback Trail run/walk set for April 22 at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Plaza in Washington, D.C.

“People need to be educated about stroke,” said Quigley. “Stroke touches people lives but it doesn’t get the shine that it could so it’s important to me to get involved. So much of it is about education and getting the word out about stroke.”

The National Stroke Association’s Comeback Trail run/walk is approximately 5K and will begin at 9 a.m. on April 22 at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Plaza in Washington D.C. For information and to register visit www.comebacktrail.org.

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