ALTON – Each year 700,000 Americans suffer a new or recurrent stroke. Approximately 543,000 survive the stroke, many experiencing significant physical limitations and emotional and cognitive challenges.In recognition of May being National Stroke Awareness Month , OSF Saint Anthony’s Health Center has partnered with United Stroke Alliance to announce a joint sponsorship of a Retreat and Refresh Stroke Camp July 26-28 at Camp Williamson in Carlinville (IL). The mission of the Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp is to improve the quality of life for stroke survivors, caregivers, and their families by offering community stroke education and awareness events and activities.

“After years of slow recovery, depression and isolation become a normal part of life not only for the survivor but also for the caregiver. Hope and optimism often seem like an unrealistic and distant goal,” says Marylee Nunley, founder of Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp, and co-founder and national board member of United Stroke Alliance. “Retreat and Refresh Stroke Camp was created to provide an opportunity for stroke survivors and their caregivers to participate in a camping experience that centers on support, education, socialization and relaxation. The primary mission is to improve the quality of life for survivors and caregivers through an experience that will motivate, inspire and support them.”

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The cost to attend is $150.00 and is all inclusive for the entire weekend retreat. Registration can be completed online by visiting

The theme for the July 26-28 Retreat and Refresh Stroke Camp is “Magical Memories” in celebration of 20 years of Stroke Camp by bringing back some of the best and brightest moments experienced during the past 20 years.

In September of 2001, Marylee Nunley's husband, John, suffered a stroke at the age of 55, an event that changed their lives forever. Following the stroke, John couldn't speak, walk, or understand much of what was going on around him. As most stroke survivors know, the road to recovery can be quite challenging. The Nunleys were no exception.

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About two years after the stroke, Marylee read an article about a camp for stroke survivors who had aphasia. After reading that story, she knew that she was meant to pursue the dream of having a similar camp in her community.

Marylee’s family has had a lifelong love of camping, so planning and executing the camp wasn't particularly frightening. With the help and support of countless individuals, they were able to realize their dream.

The first Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp program was first introduced by the Nunleys in September 2004. They realized a special need for a program that could help stroke survivors and their caregivers cope with the many challenges of stroke.

The mission of this program is to improve the quality of life for stroke survivors, caregivers, and families through relaxing weekend retreats. Activities may include group discussion, speakers, music, games, chair massage, fingernail painting, hand wax dips, dancing, swimming, fishing and craft projects to stimulate the body, mind and spirit.

“As a result of the success of that first camp, the dream to hold a single camp in Illinois has now grown to include non-profit status and a national network of stroke camps for stroke survivors, caregivers, and family members,” says Nunley.

More information on United Stroke Alliance can be obtained by visiting Information regarding Stroke Camp can be obtained by visiting Interested individuals can also call (309) 688-5450.

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