Strokes affect around 800,000 people in the US every year. With a stroke comes a physical, mental, and emotional road to recovery not just for the survivors, but their families as well. Tonight, a former Albany Academy student returns to the Capital Region on a cross-country bike ride to share his story of stroke, aphasia, and the grit to keep improving every single day.

Michael Obel-Omia has always been an avid cyclist. In 2009, he cycled across America for the first time from Anaheim, CA to NYC in 12 days. He was also an English teacher and headmaster in 2016 when he suffered an ischemic stroke.

Live To Ride, Ride To Live

Even with his motor skills and coordination damaged by the stroke, Michael refused to let it define him and set his sights immediately back on riding. As soon as he returned home from the hospital, he hopped on his stationary bike. After months inside, he finally biked outside – and fell three times in four miles. Michael swore he would keep improving – and he did.

Michael’s battle with aphasia, a loss of ability to express or understand speech caused by brain damage, led him to publish a book of poems, called Finding My Words: Aphasia Poetry. In his recovery, he often turned to poetry and the written word for comfort and expression.

Back To Albany

Now he’s traveling with Stroke Onward in Stroke Across America. Along with other stroke and traumatic brain injury survivors, he’s been cycling from Oregon to Boston since May. He’ll be in Albany tonight at Fort Orange Brewing from 6-8p. On the road he’s traded English education for stroke education, like the warning signs and what comes after a stroke.

Stroke Onward is a non-profit started by Debra Meyerson and her husband Steve Zuckerman. Debra is a stroke survivor and the author of Identity Theft: Rediscovering Ourselves After Stroke. Steve called in to Cameron in the Morning on 103.9 The Breeze to discuss the founding of Stroke Onward, the organization’s mission, and tonight’s visit at Fort Orange Brewing.

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