Ambassador Spotlight

Solly's Troopers - Sol Koplowitz 
Last November, Sol suffered a thalamic stroke and spent six weeks at Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital. Sol can't say enough about the care he received and credits the amazing physicians, nurses, therapists and personal care workers for starting him on his journey to recovery.

Together with his wife Gaila and team of supporters, Solly's Troopers will be participating as a team on May 5 to show their gratitude for the exemplary care and support Sol received.

"I feel so fortunate to be able to participate in this walk. I'm giving back so other people can continue to receive the type of care I did at Mackenzie Health - I just hope I don't slow too many people down!" says Sol.” says Sol.

Carl Zand

In March 2017, Carl had a kidney transplant and was doing really well after the surgery. Unfortunately, about 10 days later Carl suffered a stroke and was rushed to Mackenzie Health which left his family in disbelief.

After the stroke, Carl couldn't walk, talk or eat without the help of a feeding tube. It was difficult to know what he would eventually be able to do. Carl spent the next 4.5 months at Mackenzie Health, most of the time in the stroke unit. The care and support that Carl received from the medical staff and therapists was incredible and started him on his road to recovery.

He made some great strides before leaving the hospital. Carl is now attending Mackenzie Health’s outpatient cardiac rehab program where the great care continues. Carl has come a long way – he is stronger physically, continues to work on his speech and now eats everything that he enjoys.

Carl and his family are forever grateful for everything that Mackenzie Health and its great staff have provided. Participating in Strides for Stroke with his family and friends is just a small way to give back.

Claire Katz

Mackenzie Health holds a special place in Claire’s heart. Just over 5 years ago, when her twin girls were only 5 months old, she suffered from a massive pulmonary embolism which left her fighting for her life at Mackenzie Health.

After her arrival by ambulance, she suffered multiple cardiac arrests and fell into a 2 month coma. While spending several months in the ICU at Mackenzie Health the wonderful doctors and nurses worked tirelessly to help her overcome multiple organ failure and many other complications. When she awoke, she had the arduous task of coming off the breathing machine. “I remember the first time they unplugged it for just 10 minutes, I thought I was going to die – it was a long and painful process” says Claire.

While in the ICU, a complication developed and the nerves in her legs had died and as a result, Claire was no longer able to use her legs. As her symptoms were similar to those of a stroke patient, she was moved to the stroke unit at Mackenzie Health where she received exemplary care and began her rehab with the wonderful team of Mackenzie Health staff. 

Although the road to recovery has been a long one for Claire, she has started to gain back independence, including starting to drive again (with her hands in an adapted car).

Claire is taking part in Strides for Stroke to show her support and appreciation for Mackenzie Health and the staff members who have helped her on her journey to recovery.
Hass Mawji

“I wonder if I’ll walk again,” a thought that went through Hasnain (Hass) Mawji’s mind repeatedly in the wake of his devastating stroke in February 2015. Evidently, for Hass, that fear wasn’t enough to stop him from overcoming overwhelming odds when the hemorrhagic stroke left him with a paralyzed leg and arm at the age of 44.

Not only did he have to battle paralysis, he also had to overcome the fear he would ever live normally again. “That was really scary. I kept wondering if the feeling in my arm and leg would ever come back,” Hass says.

But Hass’ determination won out in the end. During his six weeks in the Mackenzie Health District Stroke Centre, he set big goals and let nothing stand in his way. “I said to myself, I’m determined to walk, so I’m going to walk.” And he did, beginning with a walker and then a cane.

It was that same drive that inspired Hass to challenge himself even further by registering for Strides for Stroke! “I wasn’t sure if I would cross that finish line, but I did, and with so many others supporting a cause that is very important to me,” Hass says. “I was so motivated by all the people involved, I found the courage to keep going even when I was tired.”

For Hass, walking has been a therapeutic and rewarding measure of success throughout his recovery. Each day since his venture out to the mall, Hass has challenged himself to walk new routes and longer distances. Hass is so grateful to the entire team at Mackenzie Health for saving his life, he now volunteers on the Mackenzie Health Stroke Unit, helping fellow stroke survivors to overcome their fears and challenges as he did.

“This is how I give back for my second chance at life,” Hass says. “I tell the patients, ‘I was where you are. You will get better, you just have to keep believing that you will.’”
Henry Mensah

Phyllis Mensah remembers feeling like someone shook her awake. The wife and mother of three was in a deep sleep just after 1 a.m. last July when she suddenly sat bolt upright. “I noticed my phone was off and I had missed calls,” she says.

The calls were from her husband, Henry, who often worked late training shift-work clients at his Scarborough gym, Fitness Zion. When Phyllis dialed Henry’s cell, she didn’t like what she heard. “His voice was slurred,” she says. “I asked if he needed help. He said ‘yeah.’”

Phyllis raced to the gym, calling a girlfriend along the way to meet her there. The two found Henry lying on the floor. “He reached up to me, smiled and winked,” Phyllis says, “That’s when I saw his face drooping.”

It was Henry’s 41st birthday. The Canadian bodybuilding champion had suffered a devastating hemorrhagic stroke.

At Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, doctors worked to get the bleeding in his brain under control. Henry was completely paralysed on his entire right side. He couldn’t swallow or speak, and he had a feeding tube. After 10 days, Henry was transferred to the York Region District Stroke Centre at Mackenzie Health, close to his family home.

After spending five weeks in the Intensive Care Unit, three of those in a medically-induced coma, by September Henry had recovered sufficiently to begin rehabilitation — and the tide quickly turned. Seemingly overnight, he began to talk and regain some mobility. Enough, in fact, that Henry put his personal trainer skills to work, leading a circuit class from his wheelchair for Mackenzie Health’s therapy team.

In November, Henry was discharged home, where he continued to recover rapidly with the help of his team at Fitness Zion. By the end of the first week, he started walking. “Every week there was something new. It shocked us,” says Phyllis.

Today, Henry walks with occasional help from a cane. He continues to work hard to build his upper-body strength and improve his speech, and he’s back to training clients and spending Sundays with his family.

Phyllis credits the Mackenzie Health stroke team with playing a critical role in Henry’s recovery. “He challenged them and they responded with the aggressive therapy he needed and deserved. The nurses knew Henry wasn’t the easiest of patients. But through it all, we formed strong bonds and relationships. This was his home for many months and I’m so grateful.”

Zara Ahmad
Zara Ahmad took strides for her grandfather...

2017 was Zara's third year participating in Strides for Stroke and since then, Zara has raised over $4,500 for Mackenzie Health Foundation!

Zara's grandfather was a heart patient with a very prolonged illness, making Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital a big part of his life. Her grandfather had a very long life due to the care given to him by the doctors, nurses and staff at Mackenzie Health. Because of their care, Zara was able to spend two and a half more years with him.

Zara gives back because she is very grateful for Mackenzie Health and all that they have given to her family!