Tampa woman runs Gasparilla Half Marathon after suffering stroke

When Lauren Barnathan was 30-years-old she suffered a stroke. "The whole time I was in complete denial," Lauren says. "As we were lying down in bed, I went to go turn over or I guess I was trying to turn over. But at the time, unbeknownst to me, the left side of my body was completely unable to be used."

Lauren's husband Adam recalls her moving in a strange way.

"I turned over to check on her and immediately, my eyes focused on her symptoms," he said. "She had a facial droop, she had no use of the left side of her body and she had slurred speech. I knew immediately it was a stroke."

Adam, who was engaged to Lauren at the time, is actually a resident physician in emergency medicine. He called 911.

"It is terrifying to me, what could have happened if I had gone to sleep or if she had gone to sleep because we see it all the time in the hospital," Adam said.

Lauren spent five days recovering in the hospital.

"The doctors were asking me to move my left arm," recalled Lauren. "And I just remember staring at it and I just was thinking, ‘If I can get my elbow up, the rest of my arm will follow.' That did not happen. I just stared at it."

They celebrated their love with a wedding in June. Then, one year after her stroke, Lauren and Adam ran the Publix Gasparilla Half Marathon together."It was a goal that I set for myself," said Lauren. "I walked past the Tampa Convention Center on the Riverwalk while I was recovering from my stroke, saw people signing up the year before, and said, ‘I am going to do that next year.' And we went and ran it. Adam ran it with me. He was slightly faster than I was but I still finished."

"I would like it on the record that I finished first only so I could see her cross the finish line," said Adam with a laugh. "Not because I was cocompetitive in any way. When she crossed the finish line, I may have cried a little bit. It was really incredible."

The race marked the first time either of them ad run a half marathon and the couple is thankful Luren has made a full phusical recovery and are more focused on running since that race.

posted Tuesday June 18th
by Gabrielle Shirley