This month, we are proud to feature Oklahoma advocate Gary Bulmer. Eleven months after marrying his wife Elaine, Gary suffered a hemorrhagic stroke at just 20 years old. Rather than let adversity get the best of him, Gary decided to devote his life to helping other stroke survivors, their spouses, family, and friends in their journey to recovery and understanding.
hero_image_alt_text===Gary and Elaine
thumbnail_alt_text===Gary and Elaine
Gary facilitates three support groups every month in Oklahoma City. In his work with the American Heart Association, he has been a powerful voice at both state and federal lobby days where he can tell his story of survival and recovery and has lobbied poignantly for AHA policy priorities such as stroke designations, tobacco taxation, and research funding.
Not content to stop there, Gary has written a book – The Compassionate Side of Compromise - to be a benefit to survivors and help them create a positive direction in their new life. Recovery from stroke requires major adjustments, and critical to that for all stroke survivors is family. Gary also writes in his book about how he became keenly aware of the emotional challenges faced by survivors’ caregivers – in his case, his wife of over 44 years now, Elaine – and hopes that his book will serve as a roadmap for family members helping their loved ones as they recover and adjust to life after stroke and brain injury.
Elaine is a Special Education teacher at Cooper Middle School in Oklahoma City. She also works with Gary to co-facilitate survivor support groups. Together, Gary and Elaine raised three children, and now have four grandchildren. Gary and Elaine have shown that there is life after stroke, and that by sharing their story with others, they have become a relentless force building longer, healthier lives both in their home state of Oklahoma, as well as the country. Spend a few minutes talking with them, and it quickly becomes apparent just how passionate they are about helping others with their recovery. We are proud to have Gary and Elaine as advocates for the American Heart Association.