By Chandler Lutz

MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. (CBS) – Two young women found a common purpose after experiencing what most young people never expect to. Victoria King and Alex Leary shared a hug in their beautiful red dresses at the recent Go Red for Women luncheon. The two share a similar experience. Both are young survivors of strokes.

“I never thought that at 21 I would be experiencing something like this,” Vicky said.

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Vicky said her stroke in 2012 was an out-of-body experience. “That’s the only way to describe it. You don’t feel like it’s happening. You feel like it’s out of yourself,” Vicky said.

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Afterward, Vicky said, “I for five years felt completely alone. And it sounds silly because I had an amazing support system in my fiancé, my family, my friends, but no one truly understood.”

Vicky got a job at ARI, a fleet management company in Mount Laurel. One day in 2017, her co-worker, Alex, didn’t come to work. Alex, too, had been hospitalized with a stroke.

“And the weirdest feeling was, I was thinking totally clearly. I knew what i wanted to say, I knew what was going on, but I was paralyzed,” Alex said.

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Vicky sent Alex a text offering support. “I remember reading it and I was just shocked,” Alex said, “because I don’t know a lot of people who have really gone through this, let alone people that work in your office with you, or are around your age too.”

The two have since built a friendship and are now working with the American Heart Association to share their story so that young people can understand that this can happen to anyone.

At the luncheon, Alex wiped away tears as Vicky said, “Although our journeys have been very different, and hers is much fresher, she has helped me in my healing process more than she will ever know.”

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Alex told the room, Vicky, “inspires me every day. She and I are able to talk about our good days and bad days. It’s so nice to know somebody who understands, especially somebody whose cubicle is only ten feet away from mine.”

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For healing and growing and working together, we say 3 Cheers to Vicky and Alex.