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Illinois teammate running Boston Marathon® in memory of his little sister

Boston Marathon

Alumni runner, Ben Youel, from Illinois, will be running the 128th Boston Marathon® with Tedy’s Team®, in memory of his little sister, Maggie, who passed away in 2015 from complications due to a 2012 stroke.

On the morning of April 16th, 2012, Maggie, a college sophomore and tennis player, went out for a jog with her boyfriend. She had to stop jogging after experiencing an intense headache. She went to her morning class where she felt dizzy and had difficulty focusing on the board at the front of the room.

After class, Maggie went to her school’s wellness center where it was recommended that she hydrate and get some rest. She laid down for a nap back in her dorm room. Around 4pm that day, Maggie’s boyfriend woke her up and it was clear that something was very wrong. Maggie was not speaking or behaving coherently and she could not move the right side of her body. Immediately, her boyfriend called 9-1-1 and got her to the hospital.

While at the hospital, it was discovered that Maggie had suffered a large left-brain stroke that was affecting her speech and motor skills. Overnight into the next day, Maggie’s condition worsened due to a clot in her brain that resulted in more damage to the left hemisphere, causing her brain to swell.

Due to the brain swelling, surgery was performed to remove a large portion of the left wall of her cranium to alleviate the increased pressure. After a successful surgery, Maggie spent a week and a half under sedation before recovering consciousness and beginning her road to recovery.

“Maggie went from being a college tennis player, to barely being able to walk and speak,” explained Ben. “She worked extremely hard for over three years to make as strong a comeback as possible. She was eventually able to walk largely without assistance, take the stairs, prepare simple meals, and help out with laundry and dishes.”

Following her month hospital stay, Maggie was moved to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) where she completed nine weeks of intensive therapy before moving back home with her family to continue her rehab at an outpatient facility for the next twenty-eight weeks.

“Even after her stroke, Maggie still approached life with the same energy and passion as she always had,” Ben said. “She volunteered once a week in the children’s section of the local library, participated in a couple aphasia research groups, took regular rides on her recumbent bike, and was a supportive older sister for the youngest sibling of the family, Evelyn, who was still in high school.”

Unfortunately, after her stroke Maggie developed seizures, and on June 18, 2015, one of those seizures took her life.

“Maggie was a 20-year-old college sophomore when she suddenly suffered her stroke,” said Ben. “I run in her honor to raise awareness that stroke can happen to anyone, at any age, at any time – even a young healthy athlete.”

On Monday, April 15th, almost 12 years to the day since Maggie’s stroke, Ben will be joining his fellow teammates on the streets of Boston as they tackle the 2024 Boston Marathon. They will celebrate the passion and inspiration of Tedy’s Team, honoring both survivors and the loved ones lost to stroke and heart disease.

To support Youel’s fundraising and awareness efforts, please visit his personal team member page and learn the warning signs of stroke, which are easily remembered with the acronym BE FAST:

  • Balance Difficulties
  • Eyesight Changes
  • Face Drooping
  • Arm Weakness
  • Speech Difficulties – and if you notice any of those warning signs, it is…
  • TIME TO CALL 9-1-1.

BE FAST is an acronym to help you quickly recognize common signs of a stroke and to take the necessary action of calling for emergency medical services. Other symptoms may include sudden and severe unexplained headache or migraine with no obvious cause, and confusion or trouble understanding things that a person would normally know.

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