Strike Out Stroke has got off to a flying start since its launch in October and Parke Lawyers continues its support of this new initiative providing free governance and legal advice.

Strike Out Stroke or SOS is the brainchild of 78 years young, three-time cancer survivor Vivienne Harkness. Strike out Stroke aims to increase awareness and reduce the incidence of strokes.

One in six people will have a stroke in their lifetime and research shows that 80% of these are preventable.

Furthermore, 64% of Australians showing the signs and symptoms of stroke fail to arrive at a suitable medical facility in time to receive urgent life-saving, disability reducing treatment. This compares with 41% in the US and 38% in the UK who don’t get fast enough treatment.

These alarming statistics show that action is needed.

SOS is being run in primary schools throughout Australia, managed by a committee of dedicated volunteers, including Executive Counsel at Parke Lawyers Brendan Reilly who is on the management committee made up solely of volunteers with no salaries paid.

In partnership with Softball Australia, SOS has developed a fun game of softball, which will promote to children, awareness of the signs and symptoms of stroke. This will encourage them, and all Australians, to lead a healthy lifestyle, thus helping reduce the incidence of stroke.

Another important part of SOS is the introduction of a new international acronym – BEFAST – Balance Eyes Face Arms Speech Time – call 000

After children participate in the softball activity they will be appointed ‘Stroke Ambassadors’ and will encourage family members and friends to do the Stroke Quiz – an online fun activity spreading direct awareness of stroke to potentially hundreds of thousands of Australians.

Funds raised will be annually distributed to organisations, including universities and hospitals, involved in research, treatment and support of stroke survivors and their carers.

Parke Lawyers is proud to be assisting this 100% voluntary organisation with all its legal document compliance and requirements.

Driving Vivienne’s passion for creating the awareness campaign SOS was the severe stroke suffered in 2011 by her late husband Peter. This affected Peter’s speech (aphasia) to the extent that he could no longer say the names of his family members or friends or participate in conversations – a frustrating and heartbreaking situation.

Peter passed away on Thursday Island in 2016, following another stroke while on a cruise.

Vivienne says, “Peter’s first stroke was the worst thing I have ever been through and it happened so suddenly as I was cooking dinner. Our lives changed in an instant.

“I want to reduce the number of strokes and ease the traumatic journey for those who have had a stroke and their carers.

“There is not nearly as much awareness, support or understanding of stroke in the Australian community, as there is with many other conditions. This is possibly because any situation involving the brain results in a more complex and fearful reaction and often leads to avoidance,” she adds.

Vivienne has had many years of experience running national special events for charity, including introducing Red Nose Day into Australia and directing it for its first three years. In that time, more than $10 million was raised and the incidence of SIDS in Australia was reduced by 85%.

The fervent hope of Vivienne and the committee is that SOS can have a similar impact on stroke.

Parke Lawyers Executive Counsel Brendan Reilly says, “We warmly congratulate this dedicated team of volunteers and we are proud to be associated with the organisation.”