Walkathon raises awareness, funds for aphasia

UNT Speech Pathology students and volunteers celebrate the 100-lap success of UNT Aphasia Support Group member, Karl Heller (center).

National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA) volunteers helped teach participants about aphasia with colorful posters and fun, interactive games.

Held last fall at the Denton Civic Center, the Walking Strong walkathon helped raise awareness and increase understanding of the language disorder aphasia.

More than 100 individuals participated and helped raise over $4,500 to benefit the UNT Aphasia Support Group. Funds will be used to provide transportation, library resources and speakers for the group.

Before the event was halfway complete, participants surpassed the overall walking goal of 1,000 laps.

“One of our walkers, who is a person living with aphasia, set a goal to walk 100 laps – the equivalence of 7.14 miles!” said Taryn Bracy, master’s student and Walking Strong assistant director. “He was one of the first ones to start and last ones to finish, but he successfully reached his goal. He was the perfect example of what it means to “walk strong” despite the struggles aphasia may cause.” 

Denton community to learn about aphasia at UNT Speech and Hearing Center's walkathon Oct. 16

What: Walking Strong: On the Road to Recovery for Aphasia -- A walkathon for aphasia awareness, with proceeds benefiting the aphasia support group in the University of North Texas Speech and Hearing Center. Sponsored by the center and the UNT Department of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology.

When: 1:30-4 p.m. Oct. 16 (Sunday).

Where: Denton Civic Center, 321 E. McKinney St.

Cost: Registration fees are $25 per individual, $22 per individual registering in a duo, $20 per individual registering in a trio and $18 per individual registering in groups of four or more. Registration is available online or by contacting walkingstrong4aphasia@gmail.com. Registration will be accepted on the day of event.

Contact: Stacy Nunnelee at 940-369-8226 or walkingstrong4aphasia@gmail.com

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- A person with aphasia -- a neurological disorder that impacts the areas of the brain for language and is usually associated with strokes -- may have trouble finding the right words to say and also understanding others' speech. That may lead to others speaking for him or her, or misconceptions about the person's intelligence.

Many of the clients of the University of North Texas Speech and Hearing Center who have aphasia, however, "are clearly very intelligent and want to speak for themselves," said Dani Eager, a UNT master's student in speech-language pathology who is helping to lead a monthly support group for aphasia patients and their caregivers. She noted that because aphasia is often a hidden disorder until the person tries to speak, the condition has many misconceptions.

That's why Eager, fellow master's student Taryn Bracy and UNT faculty member Stacy Nunnelee have organized Walking Strong, a walkathon on Oct. 16 (Sunday) that will provide the Denton community with better awareness and knowledge about aphasia.

The event will be from 1:30-4 p.m. at the indoor track of Denton Civic Center, located at 321 E. McKinney St. Fees are $25 for individuals registering alone, $22 for individuals registering in groups of two, $20 for individuals registering in groups of three and $18 for individuals registering in groups of four or more. Registration is available online and will be accepted at the door on the day of the event. Proceeds will benefit the Speech and Hearing Center's aphasia support group, which helps members who are unable to drive with transportation costs. In addition, the proceeds will provide speakers for the support group meetings.

Nunnelee, a lecturer in the UNT Department of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology, said that in addition to the support group, which serves about 25 aphasia clients, the center has smaller weekly groups for the clients to practice overall language skills, including conversational skills, along with reading and writing. The center also offers weekly aphasia evaluations.

"Many people associate aphasia with older people who have suffered strokes, but aphasia can happen at any age after a traumatic brain injury," Nunnelee said. "Most of those in our support group are in their 50s, but some are in their 30s and 40s and want to return to work."

The walkathon will include educational tables providing information on aphasia and resources for those in the Denton community, as well as educational posters on the walls of the track. A raffle drawing for prizes also will be part of the event.

For more information, contact Nunnelee at 940-369-8226 or send a message to walkingstrong4aphasia@gmail.com.

By Nancy Kolsti, News Promotions