Stroke survivors’ recovery reaches new heights on the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Today, an eleven-year-old school girl, an Olympian, and a father all took a stride forward in their recovery from stroke by summiting the Sydney Harbour Bridge to launch Stride4Stroke.

Blanketed under dark cloud cover and heavy rain, the spirit and enthusiasm of Sophie Clayton, Sami Kennedy-Sim, and Paul Fink shone bright as they took on the 1000 step challenge to raise awareness and funds for Stride4Stroke campaign, launching October 29.

Despite today’s weather, Sydney’s skies were smiling down on this special group with a giant rainbow appearing on the West following their summit celebration.

Stroke Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer Sharon McGowan said, Sophie, Sami and Paul were a snapshot of the diverse Australian stroke community.

“Stroke can impact any one, at any age. Stroke happens in an instant, attacking the brain – the human control centre – changing lives in an instant,’’ Ms McGowan said.

“Sophie, Sami and Paul are an inspiration. They have all faced enormous challenges and may continue to do so, but have not let stroke hold them back – as evident today conquering the Sydney Harbour Bridge.”

“By getting active, you will reduce your own stroke risk and raise funds to support stroke survivors and their families on the journey to recovery,” she said.

Stride4stroke is a physical activity challenge open to individuals and teams of all ages and abilities. Stride4Stroke raises money for the Stroke Foundation’s StrokeLine, the only dedicated national helpline for stroke survivors and their loved ones in Australia. StrokeLine offers support and advice and helps survivors and their families to navigate their way to recovery.

Learn more about our special Stroke survivors below, and check out how today’s special event went down here:

Sophie Clayton

In August 2010, Sophie was having a playdate with her cousin when she walked out of the playroom holding her leg. Sophie collapsed and her mum rushed to her aid, recognising the signs of stroke. It was touch and go for Sophie initially, however with treatment and a firecracker spirit Sophie left hospital 10 days later. Sophie hasn’t slowed down since. The stroke left Sophie with weakness on her right side, some speech issues and difficulty learning.

Sami Kennedy-Sim

Sami is a freestyle skier from Sydney, who is currently in training for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea. She represented Australia in the 2014 Olympics. In April of 2011, Sami Kennedy-Sim, suffered a stroke. The healthy, active athlete had never even thought about stroke affecting her directly. Sami suffered her stroke two days after knee surgery. She had just returned from a professional competition in Europe. The stroke took place in the morning when Sami got out of bed and her husband, Ben (a former Olympian himself), awoke to hear Sami making noises and fumbling. Ben realised something was wrong when he saw Sami’s face drooping. At this point Sami was unable to speak.

Paul Fink

Melbourne man Paul Fink suffered a stroke three years ago at the age of just 34, not long after becoming a first time father. He spent six months in rehab, learning how to walk and talk again. He says he missed out on six months of his son Oscar’s life as a result. Through a lot of hard work and determination, Paul can now run alongside Oscar and his wife Lauren is due to give birth to their second child in a couple of months.