AnonymousFebruary 4, 2008 at 5:14 pm
Wow! Check this out!
Paying back: Former Dover woman plans 46-mile trek to help others
By KATHY VAUGHAN, T-R City Editor
A victim of Guillain Barre Syndrome, Stacey Baker relied on a wheelchair during her senior year at Dover High 10 years ago.
There was a time when Stacey Baker couldn’t put one step in front of another, so her commitment to run and cycle 46.2 miles this month is a testament to her emotional as well as physical strength.
The former Dover resident is indebted to an international foundation that helped her recover from Guillain Barre Syndrome, and she believes in paybacks. But the Durham, N.C., resident also is paying it forward to help other GBS victims who find themselves struggling with the life-threatening experience.
She is “Running for a Reason” to raise funds for the GBS/CIDP (Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy) Foundation International.
Ten years ago, Baker was a Dover High senior, captain of a state-bound volleyball team and looking forward to a full year of activities when she was stopped suddenly by a mysterious illness that zapped her strength and ultimately left her paralyzed. Guillain Barre inflames peripheral nerves outside the brain and spinal cord.
Finally diagnosed at Akron Children’s Hospital, she was unable to walk or talk and remained hospitalized three weeks.
She credits doctors there and intravenous treatments with getting back on track. Her parents, Kathy and Bob Baker of Dover, researched the illness to try to help her. She had months of therapy and in the spring resumed classes in a wheelchair, but she was able to graduate with her class in 1999.
Guillain Barre (Ghee-yan Bah-ray) Syndrome also is called inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy and Landry’s ascending paralysis. It affects one to two people for every 100,000 in the United States. In Baker’s case, it appeared first to be a bad case of influenza, but as she became weaker and less mobile, the seriousness of her illness frightened the family.
“When we were struggling for a diagnosis and finally went to Akron Children’s, we were excited to have an answer,” Baker said. “But we’d never heard of GBS. The foundation helped educate my family, told us what to expect, who to talk to, how to care for someone with GB at home, gave us all the information we needed.
“Then of course years after all of that I’m still using the foundation. I get a newsletter and we do what we can to help.”
Now a licensed massage therapist and exercise physiologist, Baker was able to get her degree at Bowling Green State University and in January 2003 moved to Charlotte to work for the YMCA for five years. She now resides in Durham and works for an upscale retirement community.
Always physically active, Baker thought she might as well put her efforts to productive use that would benefit the Guillain Barre Foundation.
But 42.6 miles?
“It’s really not all that bad,” she said. “When I moved down here to the Carolinas, everyone is so active – not just kids or a few adults. Everyone of all ages will show up to do a short run or bike ride; it’s very common to be doing these things.
“Finally I thought gosh, why don’t I just start raising money? If people want to support me, maybe someone else could benefit from it. This is a good, close-to-my-heart cause.”
She contacted the foundation, which wanted her to tell her story online, so officials created a Web site for her. On Feb. 15, she will participate in a 5k (3.1 miles) run; on Feb. 16, a 13.1 mile run, and on Feb. 17, a 30-mile bicycle ride. Donations in Stacey Baker’s name may be made online by visiting http://www.gbs-cidp.org/webstore/staceybakerfundraiser.html
Checks made out to Stacey Baker Run for A Reason Fund may be sent to GBS/CIDP Foundation, The Holly Building, 104 1/2 Forrest Ave., Narbeth, Pa. 19072.
Baker said her recovery finally has come full circle by her being able to accept the illness and use it to help other people on a daily basis.
As for herself, Baker is exactly where she wants to be. Galloway Ridge, the retirement community where she leads fitness classes, is a phenomenal place to work, she said.
“I love it,” she said. “They (the residents) are so much fun. It’s great working with senior citizens. They know they have to be healthy and they appreciate people trying to help them.
“I do a lot of exercising because I teach classes as well as do my own training program. Hopefully I’ll be on my way to a marathon and a 64-mile bike ride as well within a year.”
AnonymousFebruary 9, 2008 at 12:10 pm
It’s really is great to hear about success stories….I’m waiting and not too patiently to be one too 😉 My family doc tells me every time I see him that I am an inspiration, to see how far I’ve come. He says, so you are not where you want to be, too bad, you’ve come a long way from “death’s door”, keep plodding along, you’ll get there. It’s hard to stay “up” all the time when you go to bed hurting and wake up hurting. Kudos to Stacy Baker! I’d love to hear more success stories, especially ones that tell you how they got there. Maybe they did something that we hadn’t thought about or given the option to try. Best wishes too all!
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