Category Archives: 2018 Holiday Campaign

Day 12 – Rebuilding my life, one speech at a time!

Jeff Charles

I am Jeff Charles and I survived a stroke that took 20% of my brain in February 2017. When I became conscious after my stroke I realized I could not walk, swallow, speak or write. I had aphasia and could not spell or concentrate. When I left the hospital rehab center 6 weeks after the stroke, I could swallow, talk and walk.

I started going to TAP almost a year ago to work on the other deficits. My time at TAP has been extremely fruitful in many ways. My aphasia is improving, and pronunciation and modulation of my voice is now good enough to give presentations on stroke. I can read more pages along with audible books (40 vs. 10 pages) in a sitting and remember all the details of the plots. My writing is improving and I am starting to get the ability to spell again. I can sign on to my email account without help and can read my emails.

My time working with TAP has provided me the vital tools to rebuild my life. I have made many new friends in my book club and writing groups. I have volunteered to give speeches for TAP fundraising events. I believe there is no better way to demonstrate the impact of this unbelievable organization than for people to see the product of their efforts.

Day 11 – Delivering Confidence

Kellie Blackmon

Kellie: I had a stroke two weeks after I had my second baby. His name is Carson. He is eight months old now. His older brother Riley is eight years old.

I go to the Clayton TAP group and the WakeMed group, TAP help me gain confidence for my speech. I love TAP. We support each other. I think TAP is a great program.

Kellie’s Husband: She comes home telling me what they have done that day. She likes it because Heather and Lina work to give her the confidence that she can do all thing possible by trying hard. I like that she is happy to be taking care of something to motivate her to work hard. TAP has given her more confidence in herself to do more. She loves challenges!

Day 10 – We Found a Home

Ken Boggs

What TAP means to us…

When Ken’s stroke occurred on May 20, 2018, life changed dramatically and forever for both of us. He awoke from this event with Global Aphasia. He has challenges both in understanding speech and word finding. This is complicated by Apraxia, which prevents him from imitating word prompts.

He spent 4 days in the Neurological ICU at UNC Hospital, and then about two weeks as an inpatient in our skilled nursing facility at Galloway Ridge, the Continuing Care Retirement Community in Pittsboro where we live.

After his inpatient stay, he returned home, receiving Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy here in the apartment. He was physically independent very soon and graduated from PT and OT in about three weeks. He continued to receive Speech Therapy from wonderful Nancy Vallejo 5 times a week. This has gradually decreased to 2 times a week currently.

Luckily we learned about the Triangle Aphasia Project from several sources, and I contacted TAP within a month of Ken’s stroke. We started going to the weekly Chapel Hill Support Group meetings in July. I’ll never forget Ken’s reaction to the first meeting. He came away energized and stated clearly: “I didn’t know! I didn’t know there were other people like me. So many..different..but same.”

I remember thinking we had found home.

Ken has been positive about attending the support group meetings from the beginning, and makes sure that they are on our calendar. He feels validated, included, and wants to help others in the group. He’s a cheerleader for everyone. At the same time he receives encouragement and guidance from Abbe Simon, our dedicated, enthusiastic, and resourceful facilitator and acceptance from all the participants in the group. It is a lifeline we look forward to every week.

We also went to a Learning to Speak Aphasia session in Cary and found this very helpful. Every person who has aphasia has an individual challenge, as each person’s experience is slightly different. But as Ken says, “So many..different..but same.”
The books suggested and the resources we have learned about through TAP are invaluable.

Most of all, we feel we are not alone as we struggle to communicate with each other, with our friends, and with strangers. The people we have met through TAP who are on the same path and face the same struggles have become important in our lives. Everyone gives to one another in his/her special way. Aphasia cuts across all economic, educational, gender and ethnic boundaries. Through TAP, we have all come together as a community to enjoy and to help each other.

Bravo to TAP. We are truly grateful for this wonderful organization

DAY 9 – Turning 50 with TAP

Helen Moses

On November 8, 2018 I turned 50! A year earlier, on the day I turned 49 and began my 50th year of life, I knew I wanted to do something BIG to celebrate this half-century milestone – something big that involved giving back. By January 2018, I felt called to raise $10,000 for TAP as my 50th birthday project, and made a public commitment to raise both the money and aphasia awareness with the help of my friends.

I picked TAP because I am a speech-language pathologist, and my first work after graduate school was in a brain injury unit serving patients with aphasia. My experiences with the patients and families I met made me vow to never take my voice for granted again. Getting involved in TAP brings me full circle to where I began my career, and my new relationships with members of the TAP family feed my soul. (I now have a voice and messaging coaching business, where I empower professionals to use their voices to make a difference.)
In this photograph, taken at my 50th birthday party, you can see me giving a big check for $10,000 to Maura. If you look closely, you can see that the date is not yet filled in. That’s because I haven’t finished yet!

So far, my efforts have raised over $4000 toward my $10,000 goal! I will continue working to raise the full $10,000 as soon as possible. I will continue to raise awareness of aphasia and of TAP as well. You will continue to see me at TAP and TAP events, promoting this amazing organization and its fantastic people on Facebook Live videos and in the community. Yes, I’m afraid I am a TAP fan for life, and the TAP family is stuck with me.
(I am especially a fan of the TAP-Tastics, and their music, because I am a singer too. In fact, the reason I decided to become a speech pathologist in the first place is because I learned that people with aphasia can sing even when they can’t speak. That still blows my mind! I am in awe at the human brain’s capacity to make new connections that bypass the parts damaged by stroke, injury, or disease.)
Here is another of my favorite photos from this year that shows how getting involved with TAP has inspired me to do something for my health – to participate in the annual Strides for Speech 5K event. I ran/walked the distance and beat my personal time goal by over a minute! I got to interview some awesome people while at that event, and share some of their stories with my Facebook community. What a great day!

Finally, here is a link to one of my #TAPTuesday videos. I posted a new one every Tuesday over several months leading up to my birthday. This one was in September, and it got 353 views on Facebook!
If my story has inspired you, you can still donate directly to TAP as part of my birthday fundraiser. Here is the link to do so:
I wish each of you in the TAP family a very meaningful holiday season!
Helen Moses

DAY 8 – Self EsteAm

Tamara Lapsley

My name is Tamara Lapsley and I’m a Speech-Language Pathologist and a TAP Communication Support Team volunteer. A little over 5 years ago, a dear family friend’s 18 year old son — Austin Harrell – suffered a large LMCA stroke. I had known Austin since he was born and had watched him grow up, play soccer, attend church with my kids, and go on annual camping and lake trips with our family and 3 other families from church. When Austin suffered his stroke 3 weeks before heading off to college, my heart truly broke knowing all that lay ahead of him and his family. However, in the process of trying to figure out how our group of friends could support Austin and his family through this crisis, I found out about Triangle Aphasia Project and Maura Silverman’s Communication Support Team model. I immediately felt a renewed sense of hope about Austin’s situation!

Austin’s family contacted Maura and as soon as he returned from the inpatient rehabilitation program at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Austin became involved with TAP. Almost immediately Susan Harrell and Maura organized Austin’s Communication Support Team, of which I have been honored and blessed to be a part of over the last 5 years. In conjunction with many other volunteers as well as several speech-language pathologists, Austin has gone from working on following 1-2 step directions and saying simple words and phrases to completing a college course each semester, writing college papers, and carrying on conversations with peers and strangers. Recently at TAP’s Christmas Open House I tried to make my way over to talk to Austin but wasn’t able to do so BECAUSE he was carrying on a lengthy conversation with a stranger. It brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart!!

As you can see, TAP and the Communication Support Team/Life Participation Model of therapy has had — and continues to have– a tremendous impact on Austin’s life, as well as the lives of countless others. It has also had a huge impact on my life and prompted myself and another family friend of Austin’s – Angie Hudson — to co-found Esteamed Coffee, Inc., a nonprofit coffee shop and bakery to employ individuals with communication, intellectual/developmental, and/or visual disabilities. One of the goals of this coffee shop will be to extend the Life Participation Model of therapy to the employee’s work and social environments. Maura has graciously agreed to be on the Board of Directors of Esteamed Coffee and is lending her 15 years of nonprofit expertise to this endeavor. We are so excited about taking what we have learned from the Communication Support Team model and extending it to the individual’s work environment! Please visit our website at to learn more.

DAY 7 – Caregiving Support

Rozanne Banicki

My mom, Karen, had a stroke three years ago that left her unable to talk. This has been a huge learning experience that has had its ups and downs. When we moved to Durham in April of 2017, mom continued her speech therapy with the therapists at Duke. The therapists have worked hard to make our communication skills better. While doing this, they saw that I was trying to go to school and take care of mom and the stress was getting to me. Early this year, my mom’s speech therapist asked me if I had looked into the Triangle Aphasia Program for my mom; they saw this as a benefit for both of us because the program can also help the caregivers. We interviewed with Maura and we were blessed to be accepted to participate in the program.

At first it was hard to get mom to go to the group, but the more she went to the Saturday group, the better she got to know everyone, and the more she wanted to go to the group. This excited me because she doesn’t usually like to leave the house; now she had friends with whom she can connect. Since I had to drop a couple of classes, mom started to attend the Aphasia Day in Cary on Wednesdays. She was hesitant to attend at first, but when she arrived, she saw a few faces she knew from the other group and she felt better. I think the music is helping to give her some confidence. Even though she can’t talk, she has been humming to the best of her ability. I really enjoy seeing a smile on her face when we go to TAP events. She loves when others recognize her and say hello and she will now go up to people and give them hugs.

This group has also been a blessing for me. When I take her to group, I can focus on my school work and other tasks I have to take care of. We have had a couple issues come up that I did not know how to find the right people to help and Maura and the staff have been very helpful at finding other support for us. I don’t know what I would do without the support we have gotten from Maura and the whole TAP family.

DAY 6 – Unexpected Detours

Michele King

A rare early December winter ice/snow ‘event’ is forecast to impact the RDU area this weekend, but who can know for certain, and how does one prepare? The grocery, hardware, gas station and adult beverage stores will all benefit, we know, but where the snow or ice will fall (if at all) is anyone’s guess.

Similarly, who knew that Robin’s life journey would take this unexpected detour leading to TAP?

After experiencing a seizure 24 years ago, Robin learned he had an AVM in his brain. Due to its’ size and location, removal was not ideal, so medicine and periodic medical monitoring provided best course of action, all with little consequence to day to day family activities and experiences.

Fast forward through a rich and full life to six years ago, when Robin suffered an aneurysm/stroke. He was very fortunate in his recovery: returning to full time work in his beloved construction sales field, completing and moving to the “empty nest” house, and walking his only daughter down her path to marriage and happiness. An upbeat, determined, and positive outlook made it all possible!

That “happily ever after” picture dissolved two years ago when Robin’s AVM ruptured, resulting in a new and very different reality of physical and cognitive challenges, including the-never-heard-of-before Aphasia. For the next year and a half, multiple surgeries, procedures, therapies, treatments, outreach, group sessions, social work interactions, programs and a LOT of professional wisdom helped Robin make big strides in physical progress, but much less in his ability to communicate effectively. When, six months ago, it began to seem that all resources to continue Robin’s recovery journey were exhausted, we fortuitously were introduced to Maura and TAP .

Robin enthusiastically attends the weekly Aphasia Day Group,and is already showing improvement in verbal skills, confidence and self-esteem. In fact, he is so enthusiastic about TAP, that there was no question of his choice to sing with his TAPTastic comrades rather than participate in a golf experience – on a beautiful Carolina Fall day!

We know that communication is, and will be, a challenge for Robin, but life is much richer today due to TAP’s culture, philosophy and real-world approach. He has quickly bonded and identified with the extended TAP family, feeling welcomed and valued. Like the commercial says: Priceless. So, this season, we honor TAP.

With Gratitude, Michele and Robin King

DAY 5 – The People Are the Reason

Heather Garrabrant

Over two million people in the US have aphasia. That’s more people living with aphasia than living with Parkinson’s disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), or Multiple Sclerosis, yet about 85% of people in the US do not know what aphasia is. About one third of strokes result in aphasia. The average age of TAP clients is 47. These statistics are eye opening. But statistics aren’t the reason I am passionate about Triangle Aphasia Project. The people are the reason.

TAP clients send each other birthday cards, visit each other if someone is in the hospital, work hard to raise funds and awareness of aphasia, work very hard to participate in their lives and communities while having aphasia, and TAP clients give smiles and hugs generously. TAP staff, volunteers and group leaders share group activity ideas, cover for one another when schedule conflicts or illness occur, and support each other and the clients and their families in so many ways. The people are the reason I love TAP.

I began working for TAP in 2009 before the Cary office opened. I was thrilled when Maura asked me to lead an Aphasia Day at Marsh Creek Park, and a TAP gathering at the IHOP in Cary another week. Working for an organization dedicated to the Life Participation Approach to Aphasia (LPAA) is a dream job for me as a speech-language pathologist. Currently I lead the Clayton Aphasia Group, help lead the WakeMed Aphasia Group and Book Club, and serve on the TAP Development Committee. I enjoy substituting for other group leaders when possible to enjoy the dynamics of other groups and meet more of the amazing TAP clients and their families.

When I am not working with TAP, you might find me running on the greenway, hanging out with my family, watching sports, reading, or traveling. I’ve always loved this quotation from Arthur Ashe, and feel it applies well to TAP: “Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.”

DAY 4 – My Definition of TAP

Joel / Kevin Coleman

Joel (Kevin) Coleman – 50 years-old Stroke Survivor
I had my Ischemic stroke on July 15th, 2017 critical part my recovery was getting the TPA in the 4-hour window of time. Medical Staff at two hospitals REX, UNC saving me some from normalcy. If not all there, but I know I was spared for a reason… to be more IMPACTFUL. After going to speech rehab for 6 months. When going to REHAB the Speech Pathologist know told me about TAP. I been going for a year now. I was pick for a Study for UNC Electrode Stimulation therapy Jan. – June to spurned building your pathways back for your Language part of a brain. TAP It’s my extended-family they are helping me to keep my dignity through this trying part-of-life. All the different groups for Survivors and their Families with various things to do to help get better and coping every day. All the survivors have a common thread of wake-up to your life alter in a way never thought about before. Everybody’s journey of recovery it’s different. But initial feelings of not knowing where your life journey will go after, acceptance of the cards you been dealt. I feel a kindred bond with every survivor I meet in the travels around me.

Mrs. Silverman It’s my Angel on Earth more people’s Angel too. I know she’s been a champion for the voiceless for a long time that why I wanted to do MORE to help getting word out about APHASIA and STROKES. Aphasia not apart your intelligence you are still you it’s communication breakdown in your brain. TAP to guide my heartfelt feeling of gratitude and have aspiration to get better every day. TAP always be part of my existence from now on. TAP is a resource that every communities should have to bridge the gap from hospital to rehab to therapy and lifetime recovery. Hope, Purpose, Determination and Engagement IT’s TAP.

DAY 3 – Stumbling Into Inspiration

Amy Davis

In my lifetime, I have realized that it is possible to stumble upon opportunities that open up a whole new world in ones’ journey. This is what happened to me when Maura invited me to join the TAP family. What I have experienced during my one year at TAP, has filled my heart and provided immense gratification in my professional work. I am surrounded by people eager to make a difference, who struggle, who love.

Being the Office Manager, does not lend itself to actual group participation however the conversations and laughter, drift to my office allowing a glimpse of the magic that happens in these groups. Our clients have motivated me to be brave and conquer fears. Our clients have inspired me to keep trudging regardless of discomfort. Our clients have taught me to step outside my shyness and limitations and see the possibilities.

These clients, who are so heroic, are supported by group leaders, volunteers, caregivers and our board. And of course, there is Maura… who challenges me daily, makes me roar with laughter and shed an occasional tear while sharing her first-hand experiences. Her passion creates passion.

TAP’s integrity, empathy and true family values are what makes TAP a safe place for clients and their loved ones. This commitment to continued services for clients and their families, while raising awareness to those who have never heard of aphasia, keep us motivated and forever grateful for the support others have provided. May the journey continue…

Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season!

DAY 2 – The Phone Call that Changed my Life

Tom Barrett

TAP has changed me and helped me become a better person…

I had never heard of Aphasia until August 2015, when a lady called me to help her husband in his recovery from a Stroke. The wild thing about this is the person who called me got my name from a friend of a friend. Until then my experience had been caring for older folks with dementia. I never could have imagined how my life would change from that one phone call!

The person who I was helping and I, started to attend TAP. Right from the beginning we felt accepted, loved, understood and supported. You see, a family member or a care giver can have all the empathy in the world, but only a person who has Aphasia can truly understand what it means to go through life with Aphasia. Imagine knowing what you want to say, but not being able to say it. TAP gives people hope, encouragement, understanding, purpose and love.

TAP challenges you. TAP allows you the dignity to fail. TAP picks you up when you don’t want to go on anymore. TAP lets you know you are not alone. TAP shows you that your ability to communicate can and will improve if you keep showing up. TAP give your life back.

TAP also gives hope to your family members. Think about trying to communicate to your loved one and not being able to. Your spouse feels powerless, lost and hopeless. Then you start attending TAP and after time you see your loved one improving, laughing, speaking, and fighting. Think about the fact that a person with Aphasia has to learn to write again, very often with the opposite hand. They may have to learn the alphabet again, how to read and write their name. This has to be one of the hardest most sobering things to deal with.

Besides the hope, encouragement, and empowerment TAP provides for people with Aphasia, TAP gives care givers, loved one, friends, and family the ability to communicate with the person dealing with Aphasia. TAP enables people like me, who have never heard of Aphasia and is not a Speech Therapist the ability, knowledge and education to help our loved ones. Think about how powerless the people in the lives of a person who has Aphasia feels. TAP give us hope.

Finally having a stroke or a brain injury leaves the person with a very expensive medical bill. Hospital cost, speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, adaptive equipment all of these things add up. TAP allows our people to not worry about costs, set aside your anxiety of medical bills and focus on getting better. Costs are kept to a minimal and that gives people one less thing to worry about.

I could go on for days about TAP, but I will leave you with this; TAP works! Our little family is touching and changing lives all across the state. Our leaders are showing people in other states what works. TAP is the best thing I have ever experienced and truly feel blessed to be a part of the TAP family.

DAY 1 – “I Can” and “I Did”

Lin D’Antonio

My name is Lin D’Antonio. I had my stroke on June 12, 2015 just five days after returning from a trip to England to visit family living there (not a picture of England, but Helen, GA). It was early Friday morning, just about 3 a.m. when I woke my husband, Dominic, from his sound sleep to tell him we forgot to put out our trash and recycling for Friday pick-up. But, for some reason unknown to me, Dominic couldn’t understand anything I was saying.
According to him, it sounded like gobbley-gok, incoherent and meaningless. At first he thought I was having a nightmare and talking in my sleep, but realized I was sitting up in bed trying to relay my message about the trash pick-up to him. He decided to rush me to hospital where I was given a scan and diagnosed as having a stroke and confined to hospital for 5 days.

After my discharge, I went to speech therapy at REX in Cary and met Abby Simon, my speech therapist, who introduced me to and encouraged me to continue at TAP. This was some of the best advice and encouragement anyone could have given me at that time. I started attending various TAP sessions and am thankful that I did.

Before my stroke, I was working in REX Cary for nearly 15 years. I tried to return to work, but because of my Aphasia I was not able to work the mandatory 12 hour shift which was too long then and even now.

In addition, English is my second language, Tagalog being my first language. I struggled inside recalling and retrieving words and trying to translate them from one language to the other. I found people thinking I had an English language problem and not Aphasia. I also was surprised to learn that like me before my stroke, most people, even health care professionals don’t know what Aphasia is and never heard of it.

TAP has given me the opportunity to build my confidence again while doing volunteer work every Tuesday and Wednesday where I find friendship, commitment, determination and hope. I pray that one day everyone will be better and we will use the magic words “I CAN” instead of I Can’t.

I would like to say “thank you” to TAP for bringing Aphasia to the forefront of State politicians and the legislature and making them aware of how many people are suffering from Aphasia.

And mostly, I would like to give special thanks to my family especially to my husband who has continually supported me throughout my recovery.