Just outside Junction City, Kansas is a camp that has all the makings of a typical camp.
Except the campers who come here share one powerful bond.
Each camper is either a stroke survivor, a caregiver, or a volunteer — who usually works in the health field.
For an entire weekend the campers are surrounded by people who understand exactly what they’re going through.
They do so while making memories during group activities, games, and they even get pampered with massages, and manicures.
We caught up with camper Pete Sales while he was taking advantage of the pampering.
While getting a back and hand massage at the same time he joked that he could tolerate this kind of life, “Probably just six days a week,” Pete said with a huge smile on his face.
Sales is the kind of person who has a contagious smile.
It’s his second year at the Kansas Stroke Camp, and just like the year before, Sales arrived at camp alone.
“Well my parents, they were my main support group, but they have their own medical issues so it’s not the easiest to try and drag them around,” he said.
Sales suffered his stroke three years ago at 47-year-old.
He couldn’t believe it, you see he was always under the impression that only older people have strokes.
“I’m not young, young, but I’m not too old,” Sales said.
Sales found out the hard way that a stroke can happen at any age and anywhere.
When he suffered his stroke he was just hanging out at his parents house.
“Took a step fell flat on my face, I thought my legs asleep,” he said. “I tried to get up I couldn’t do nothing I had no strength in my left side, all I could basically do was kind of barrel roll on the ground.”
Sales said he had to barrel roll against the wall closest to the room his parents were in, “I hit on the wall until my parents came and noticed the noise.”
Sales said he doesn’t remember the next two weeks, only waking up in the hospital and learning that he had suffered a hemorrhagic stroke.
It’s he most serious and deadliest kind of stroke a person can have, it essentially means that there is a bleed in the brain.
Doctors told Sales that his stroke was caused by a combination of not taking care of himself and high blood pressure.
Because Sales knew his parents needed him as their caregiver, not the other way around, he worked his tail off in therapy to regain what he had lost from the stroke.
He also lost a ton of weight, 100 pounds to date according to Sales.
At Stroke Camp, Sales can celebrate how far he’s come with people who understand it better than anyone else.
He considers himself extremely lucky, because not every camper at Stroke Camp made a recovery like him.
Some are wheelchair bound and can only use one of their arms, some can’t speak or struggle to speak.
Not only did Sales feel like he got a second chance at life when he survived his stroke, at Stroke Camp he found a second family too.
Stroke Camps like this one in Kansas take place all over the country.
If you would like to learn more about how to sign up, or know someone who could benefit from a camp like this click HERE.