Felton Armand lay in a hospital bed after suffering a stroke and thought of all the things he never did.
"The bucket list started running down my mind," he said.
He wanted to run a marathon, learn how to ride a motorcycle and jump with a parachute. Instead, he was helpless and bothered by the idea he would be a burden to his family.
The Homewood man was 35 at the time and working as a systems engineer for a start-up software company. He worked late into the night, not stopping until a problem was solved.
"I probably have a type A personality," he said, "a very driven person."
That determination fueled his recovery.
Cementing his resolve was the day a physical therapist wanted Armand to pick up a cup of beans, pour them on a table and put them back in the can, one by one.
"But, I wanted to run a marathon," he said.
A year later, he ran two of them.
Armand was among a group of stroke survivors recognized at Sunday's Chicago White Sox game as part of an American Heart Association initiative called Strike Out Stroke. The goal is to spread awareness about strokes and help people learn the signs.
They include sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; sudden trouble seeing; sudden severe headache with no cause; and sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss or balance or coordination.
Gary resident Tammilita Alford, 48, had a stroke in 2005. Her symptoms were spread over a month.
"I had all the signs, but I didn't know it," she said.
She blamed thumb, hand and elbow numbness on her job in information technology, wearing a brace and writing it off as carpal tunnel syndrome. She blamed work on her vision problems, too, and got new glasses. She had her home inspected for a gas leak, because she was light headed and nauseated. She even took a pregnancy test, thinking she had morning sickness.
Unknowingly, she was experiencing mini strokes.
One afternoon, she wasn't feeling well and went to her mother's house. She stepped in the shower but couldn't turn it off. She got dressed and walked into the den. Alford thought she was talking, but she wasn't. Her mother called for an ambulance.
"I could see the fear in her eyes," Alford said.
She was treated for the strokes and made major lifestyle changes. She manages her blood pressure, sought therapy, changed her diet and changed her way of thinking, she said.
"It's got to be by the grace of God that I'm not in some hospital, taking medication," she said.