Bonney Lake student promotes stroke awareness

Tabitha Reynolds attempts to tie her shoe with an oven mitt to demonstrate common aftereffects of strokes.

Bonney Lake high school student Tabitha Reynolds, 16, raised more than $450 for the American Stroke Association during her Stroke Awareness event at the school.

“A year ago, my good friend’s father had a stroke,” Reynolds said. “It really changed their family dynamic so I wanted to make a difference and I hope this can help.”

Reynolds explained that most people don’t know about strokes.

“A lot of people don’t know the warning signs,” she said. Reynolds uses the acronym FAST to remember the signs of a stroke; Face drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty and time to call 911.

Reynolds said time may be the most important part of FAST. “Most people don’t realize they’ve had a stroke, or if it is over, they think they will be fine.”

The American Stroke Association recommends that even if the symptoms of a stroke are relieved, the person should still call paramedics.

In order to give people a rough idea of what it may be like after a stroke, Reynolds demonstrated a small activity she put together with the help of the American Stroke Association.

First, Reynolds attempted to put on a jacket using only one arm. According to the American Stroke Association, stroke survivors may experience continued weakness on one side of their body,

Then Reynolds attempted to write her name with her non-dominant hand, to represent how stroke survivors may have to re-learn familiar tasks.

Reynolds then put on “impaired vision” goggles and attempted to tie her shoe with one hand in an oven mitt, to demonstrate how stroke survivors often have limited fine motor skills.

Kari Roller attended the event. Her husband, Jason, suffered two strokes and prompted Reynolds to hold the event.

“This is huge,” Roller said, explaining that her family knew nothing about strokes until her husband had two. “It’s an honor she is recognizing him.”

The Stroke Awareness event was a DECA community service project. DECA, a nation-wide organization to encourage high school and college students explore the world of business and entrepreneurship, holds annual state and national business plan and event competitions.

Last year, Reynolds competed on the state level with a business plan she drew up for her mother’s photography studio.

This year, Reynolds hopes to place in the top three in the national competition with the paper she will write about the community service event.

While her goal was to raise $500 at the event, Reynolds will be keeping her online crowd-funding website on crowdrise.com open until Jan. 12 for additional donations.