By Carrie Hodousek

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Delaware Valley Stroke Council is holding their 20th annual Strides for Stroke 5K Run/Walk this Sunday at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Silvia Rotenbury is one of the many stroke survivors participating in the race.

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As she was preparing her casserole Thanksgiving Eve of 2006, she started to feel some tingling in her middle two fingers that occurred during a serious migraine. After becoming ill, she was rushed to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania where doctors later confirmed she had a stroke.

“I had overheard some of the doctors secretly say that they really didn’t have high hopes for me to be walking again,” says Rotenbury.

It was determined at HUP the 55-year-old woman from Plymouth Meeting had temporary paralysis on the left side of her body, making it difficult to move any left muscles. But she was determined to get better during her physical therapy at Bryn Mawr and Chestnut Hill Rehabilitation Centers.

“I had to pick up marbles because I had trouble with my left hand. I had trouble counting money. It was just simple little things to get motion,” she said. “I started out slow on the treadmill, and yes, I was holding on for dear life because my balance was almost not there. Even on my down time, I was exercising my feet. You just have that will power and it’s like ‘I can do anything!’…Almost.”

Now, seven and a half years later, she is thrilled to be walking in the race as a tribute to her husband, family, and everyone else who helped her along the way.

“Now I’m getting ready and walking three miles every weekend and practicing for Strides for Stroke,” she said.

Co-chair of the race, Ira Mazer, is the son of Toby Mazer, founder of the council who is helping to organize the event held in his father, Howard’s, honor.

Ira Mazer and his wife. Ira is the Co-Chair of the Delaware Valley Stroke Council. (Photo provided by Ira Mazer.)

Ira Mazer and his wife. Ira is the Co-Chair of the Delaware Valley Stroke Council. (Photo provided by Ira Mazer.)

“He was really a true, hard-working surgeon. He was the type of guy that would stay up all night if there was a patient in jeopardy,” said Mazer. “My mom knew he would never stop fighting for anybody, so she did not stop fighting for him.”

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Mazer’s involvement with the council is very personal and intimate. He says there are three different situations they cover, with prevention being their first goal.

“If you do have a stroke, we have this F.A.S.T. analysis: Look at the face. Is it drooping? Ask someone to raise their arms. It is tilting one way or another? Ask somebody to speak. Is it slurred? Then the ‘T’ in F.A.S.T. is for time,” he said. “The third [goal] is rehabilitation.”

They expect several hundred people at Strides for Stroke, including a DJ, the Mummers, food vendors, and different booths regarding rehabs and hospitals all starting at 7:30am. Mazer says this 20th year is no different.

“It’s not about the event itself. It’s about what it promotes. There is an actual chance to help people here.”

To pre-register for the Strides for Stroke Race, visit the website.

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