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Lee S.


My name is Lee Stern. I was a former hockey player, former hockey director for Burning Blades Roller Hockey Association, a former USA hockey referee and coach. I am a father of two, ages 25 and 23. At the age of 42 my life was significantly changed. I had a CVA stroke.

I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes about a year before the stroke. I didn't properly manage my diabetes. I was severely overweight at 300 lbs. I was constantly tired and had blurred vision. I had a raspy nasal voice. I had sleep apnea. All these symptoms were a warning that I didn't take seriously. I played a lot of hockey and my feet had fungus and open sores. I didn't take care of it so well. In January 2004, I developed a staph infection in my feet, and the infection caused a clot in my left leg. The clot was discharged to the heart which caused endocarditis. It broke off and went to the brain causing my stroke. I spent several weeks in an intensive care unit and was then transferred to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. I was left with paralysis on the left side of my body. There they got me out of the wheelchair and helped me to stand. They had to teach me how to feed my self and write with my right hand. After I was off the respirator, they put me on a trach, and I had to learn how to talk with the trach. They helped me with my speech and memory. It seemed that obstacles were always thrown in my path, but I was strong and fought to overcome them. I was transferred to a nursing facility and continued to rehabilitate. 

I was told that I would never walk, drive or be able to live on my own without a caretaker. I proved them all wrong! In November 2004, I moved into my own apartment and continued outpatient rehabilitation. Through physical, occupational and speech therapies and counseling, I have managed to live my life relatively independently. It took determination, perseverance and a lot of hard work. I have had many health issues and setbacks along the way. In 2005, my aortic valve ruptured and required open heart surgery from which I almost didn't survive. I have come a long way since then. I am no longer diabetic. I have strong mental capabilities and am quite witty. I am able to drive and do errands on my own. I work out at the health club and walk the track, do the elliptical, treadmill and other exercises. I even hold two jobs, one at North Shore Ice Arena and the other at Dick's Sporting Goods. Everyday, I am committed and motivated to improve my life. I am friendly and try to inspire others.

Thank you for listening to my story.


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