LAST YEAR Kevin Klisares was on a turkey-hunting trip near Lake Rathbun in south central Iowa when he began to feel strange. Because he and his companions didn’t recognize the signs of what was happening to him, he didn’t go to the hospital until a day later.
Klisares, then 54, had suffered a stroke. It has confined him to a wheelchair and changed his life. Yet those difficulties also inspired something positive: In his honor, his nephew Noah Matykowski, a sophomore at Des Moines’ Roosevelt High School, organized a stroke awareness walk across the city’s Gray’s Lake bridge as his confirmation project at his church. It was held on Oct. 4, Klisares’ birthday.
“A lot more people have strokes than people are aware of, and at all ages,” Matykowski says.
Sign-ups at his church garnered more than 25 walkers and numerous donations. “We thought we could raise $75 to $80,” says Becky Klisares, Kevin’s sister-in-law. “But the walk raised $501.”
Matykowski knew exactly what to do with the proceeds: He donated the money to DMU’s annual Stroke Camp, which his uncle has participated in.
“The DMU students are just awesome,” Klisares says. “I’ve had a lot of therapists and can always tell when they’re from DMU.”
DMU President Angela Walker Franklin, Ph.D., thanked Matykowski for the donation and for helping raise awareness about stroke, which affects nearly 800,000 Americans a year.
“For a high school student to have this level of leadership is really inspirational,” President Franklin says.