Las Vegas heart walk to support stroke victims and loved ones

For Joe Molina, dressing himself in the morning is an accomplishment to be proud of.

Since he suffered a stroke that left half of his body paralyzed four years ago, he takes any victory he can get in a recovery process he calls slow and often disappointing.

“It becomes depressing after a while when you try to do something and you end up with more failures than successes,” said the Henderson resident.

He was 55 when he suffered a stroke after being treated for a brain aneurysm. “You’ve got to adjust.”

As he continues to cope with his own recovery, Molina said he has found comfort in the support groups offered through the American Heart Association, where he also volunteers to help others with their own problems .

The next milestone they plan to celebrate is the 20th annual Las Vegas Heart Walk. The event is Oct. 15 at Mountain’s Edge Exploration Park. The organization hopes to raise at least $300,000.

Proceeds fund research in the western states and aid community programs, such as Molina’s support group.

“It helps us save lives,” said Lacy Ekert, business development director for the walk.

Heart disease and stroke are the nation’s first and third killers, according to the American Heart Association.

To commemorate its anniversary, the event will debut a miracle mile walk for survivors of heart disease and stroke who often can’t complete the 5K race.

Molina plans to participate in the walk, although moving around is difficult for him. He has been working with a therapist to relearn to walk but said he’s still far from taking noteworthy strides.

But it’s fundraisers such as the annual heart walk that can take him a step farther.

The walk also helps fund the heart association’s adaptive golf program, where Molina and others learn to replay the sport with just one arm.

“It gives us a bit of community and camaraderie,” he said. “There’s not so much that sense of isolation that we often feel.”

He emphasized how strokes affect not only the individual survivor but the whole network, which also has to learn how to react and cope.

“It changes not only your life but everyone who is associated with you,” Molina said. “The walk is about that community support.”

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