Stroke Victim Remains Passionate For Everblades

By Chris Umpierre
The News-Press

ESTERO, Fla. – Betty Dusenbury, 77, suffered a significant stroke in February that paralyzed the left side of her body. Every day since has been a struggle.

Once an active member in her retirement community, Dusenbury is now bound to a wheelchair. She can’t dress herself or eat without assistance.

The Florida Everblades – Dusenbury’s favorite hockey team – have raised her spirits during these trying times.

Dusenbury, a five-year Blades season-ticket holder, has listened to the team’s games on the radio as Florida advanced in the ECHL Kelly Cup Finals. Dusenbury’s daughter, Kim Gaide, reads her the team’s stories in the newspaper.

All of it has helped. Dusenbury attended Game 6 of the Kelly Cup Finals on Wednesday at Germain Arena. It was the second home game she’s attended since the stroke. Karen Wise, a Lee Memorial Hospital nurse and a family friend for 15 years, accompanied Dusenbury upon her doctor’s request.

“One of the things that was so depressing for her (after the stroke) was that she couldn’t see the Everblades,” Wise said. “This is a big morale booster for her. She’s able to get out of the facility. She’s able to get on the road and see things.

“This is the best medicine for her right now.”

Wearing blue pants, a light blue shirt and a medical wristband on her right hand, Dusenbury sat in her wheelchair in Section 109 as the Blades took the ice Wednesday.

“They mean a lot to me,” said Dusenbury, her voice barely audible. “They got me out of the hospital.”

All of the staff members at Health Park Care Center, where Dusenbury lives, know about Dusenbury’s passion for the Blades. Dusenbury has Blades memorabilia posted in her room.

“She has to read the stories in the paper,” Gaide said. “If I don’t bring it to her, she says, ‘Where is it? Where are the articles?’ “

Game 2 of the Kelly Cup Finals was Dusenbury’s first home game since the stroke. About 20 fans approached her and asked how she was doing. Blades forward Brandon Coalter, who is on the team’s injured list, came by and inquired about her.

“That made me feel pretty special,” Dusenbury said.

Dusenbury was a Lee Memorial volunteer for 15 years before her stroke. In addition to following the Blades, Dusenbury attended other sporting events and local parades.

Wise said Dusenbury’s mind is still clear.

“It’s her body that’s holding her back,” Wise said. “That’s what makes it so frustrating.”

A hockey team is helping her battle that frustration.

All of it has helped. Dusenbury attended Game 6 of the Kelly Cup Finals on Wednesday at Germain Arena. It was the second home game she’s attended since the stroke. Karen Wise, a Lee Memorial Hospital nurse and a family friend for 15 years, accompanied Dusenbury upon her doctor’s request.

“One of the things that was so depressing for her (after the stroke) was that she couldn’t see the Everblades,” Wise said. “This is a big morale booster for her. She’s able to get out of the facility. She’s able to get on the road and see things.

“This is the best medicine for her right now.”

Wearing blue pants, a light blue shirt and a medical wristband on her right hand, Dusenbury sat in her wheelchair in Section 109 as the Blades took the ice Wednesday.

“They mean a lot to me,” said Dusenbury, her voice barely audible. “They got me out of the hospital.”

All of the staff members at Health Park Care Center, where Dusenbury lives, know about Dusenbury’s passion for the Blades. Dusenbury has Blades memorabilia posted in her room.

“She has to read the stories in the paper,” Gaide said. “If I don’t bring it to her, she says, ‘Where is it? Where are the articles?’ “

Game 2 of the Kelly Cup Finals was Dusenbury’s first home game since the stroke. About 20 fans approached her and asked how she was doing. Blades forward Brandon Coalter, who is on the team’s injured list, came by and inquired about her.

“That made me feel pretty special,” Dusenbury said.

Dusenbury was a Lee Memorial volunteer for 15 years before her stroke. In addition to following the Blades, Dusenbury attended other sporting events and local parades.

Wise said Dusenbury’s mind is still clear.

“It’s her body that’s holding her back,” Wise said. “That’s what makes it so frustrating.”

A hockey team is helping her battle that frustration.