NJ YMCA talent show will benefit non-profit organization for stroke survivors
WAYNE — Rene Testa Adams wasn’t too long removed from his days as an all-county athlete when the inexplicable happened to him on a softball field.
She was dragging runners to third base and at the end of an inning she started heading for the dugout. In front of her players, the opposing team and everyone else seated in the stands, her knees buckled and she collapsed to the inside dirt.
She was 26 and had just had a stroke.
Now 59, she says what happened to her that day in April 1989 is easier to accept.
“Strokes don’t just happen to your grandparents,” said Testa Adams of Hawthorne, who has spent years trying to dispel myths about the condition of the brain.
Testa Adams and her friend, Diane Bromberg-Stern, are co-hosting a talent show at the Wayne YMCA to raise awareness about stroke and its symptoms, especially aphasia, a disorder that affects a person’s ability to speak.
The event will take place from 7-9 p.m. Thursday at the Rosen Performing Arts Center at the Y, 1 Pike Drive. Doors will open at 6 p.m. for a complimentary dessert.
Bromberg-Stern leads a networking group for healthcare professionals specializing in services for the elderly. It meets at the Y.
“I like to use the word ‘win-win’ because it’s a win-win for Rene and for the people in my group,” Bromberg-Stern, of Wayne, said.
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The event will feature a dozen volunteer groups and solo artists, including a doo-wop ensemble, a reggae guitarist and a comedian. Nate Moran, actor and former homeless veteran, will perform a mime. Testa Adams is also expected to sing.
The talent show is free, but donations will be collected for the RenéMarie Language of Love Foundation Inc., a charity that Testa Adams started for her cause eight years ago.
Testa Adams said she was inspired by one of her childhood heroes: the late Jerry Lewis. And like the pop icon, she organizes a telethon every year.
“I used to glue myself to the TV,” she said of her deep interest in the Labor Day weekend benefits, which raised hundreds of millions of dollars. dollars for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
“I love the concept of enlightening people and bringing music into their lives,” said Testa Adams. But Lewis, she added, had a bigger purpose behind it.
She said her goal is to help people who cannot afford additional rehabilitation after medical insurance coverage expires.
Money shouldn’t be the “determining factor” in a person’s ability to recover from a stroke, Testa Adams said.
“You should get all the help you can get, and money should be secondary,” she said. “But in life, that’s not how it works. We have big dreams – we really want to make an impact in the world.”
And the need for more support is dire, according to the statistics.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds – and someone dies from it every 3.5 minutes.
A stroke occurs when a clot blocks blood flow to part of the brain or when a blood vessel bursts in the brain.
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The risk of stroke increases as people age, but the CDC warns it can occur at any age, even newborns. Diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are the main causes.
Testa Adams admits she may have missed the warning signs.
“We had no idea – we wouldn’t have known,” she said. “We wouldn’t have known what they were.”
Testa Adams said she was still experiencing residual symptoms, including weakness on the right side of her body. However, she looks to her “wonderful journey” for all the good things he’s introduced into her life, like the annual telethon and her “Stroke of Luck” webcast.
“At the time, we were just happy that I didn’t die,” she said. “It’s who I am now. I’m just who I am.”
Philip DeVencentis is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.