(WDTN) – Jeri Ward is not only a pageant contestant, but she is also a stroke survivor, and she’s now dedicated her life to spreading awareness of self-care.
Her organization “Stroke of Luck” has reached people all over the world with a simple message for other stroke survivors: “You’re not alone.”
It’s clear that Jeri is a persistent and determined person. At 30 years old, she had to re-learn to speak and do other basic tasks, and she says it was all due to stress.
“I actually had a headache for about 5 days before my stroke,” Jeri said, “And I just completely ignored the signs and symptoms of it, because who doesn’t have headaches and who doesn’t have stress?”
It was a long road to recovery, but one that she never gave up on with her husband by her side the whole time as her caregiver – a role she believes is more difficult and sometimes overlooked.
“You’re so helpless, she said. “So at least as a survivor, I was able to muster up the determination to get ahead and practice and put my will into it. But my husband had to take care of a 30-year-old toddler when she came home.”
Today Jeri is using her experience and her platform in pageants to create awareness by sharing her story and helping others through her organization Stroke of Luck.
“What we did was we created a box that had everything that we wished that we would have had when we had a stroke. Not only does it provide comfort items, but it also contains a lot of therapy items and items for the caregivers as well.”
The box has a step-by-step game plan for therapy, including free support groups.
She says Stroke of Luck was part of her healing and has grown rapidly.
The caregiver boxes have been shipped all over the world to help people in their recovery while creating a movement.
She and her husband just returned from a trip to Portugal with a focus on stroke recovery for people of that country.
Jeri says she hopes the message breaks down barriers.
“I think the bigger picture is that this can happen to anyone despite age, race, “
And the big message for stroke survivors: You’re not alone.
“By doing these things we’re not only connecting and working with people from all over the world, but we’re really building a stroke family and I have friends all over the world now who have suffered a stroke, and we all kind of unite together!”
If you have a family member or know of someone recently recovering from a stroke, the caregiver boxes can be ordered from the Stroke of Luck website here.
Jerri says she’ll be competing for her final time as Mrs. International in Tennessee in July. She is hoping to use that experience to continue serving stroke survivors.