Amber runs the Sinister 7 race in 2016. Photo credit: Raven Eye Photography

Running with Rhyno: Stroke research on the run

Edmonton’s Amber Poliquin is raising money for stroke research at the Univeristy of Alberta Hospital

Amber Poliquin was a healthy 39-year-old ultra runner when her whole world changed.

She says, “if you had told me last year, that I would lose my left peripheral vision to a stroke, I would not have believed you.”

On Sunday, I joined about 20 other runners from Edmonton, Calgary and Camrose for a Blackfoot Ultra training run at the Islet Staging Area, east of Sherwood Park.

While race organizers hosted the fun run to give runners a preview of one 25K loop, it was also an opportunity to hear about Poliquin’s story and donate to stroke research.

I won’t go into the nitty gritty about what happened to Poliquin (because I am not a medical doctor and I would likely screw something up.) but I will break it down for you.

Last August, Poliquin was running errands when everything went black. Her husband had her to the hospital within 15 minutes but it wasn’t until the next day that doctors confirmed she had a stroke on her right occipital lobe (one of the four lobes of the cerebral cortex). She had an atypical presentation of stroke – without the usual symptoms of slurred speech and droopy face etc.

Doctors said she had a 10 per cent chance of fully recovering her left peripheral vision.

Like most ultra runners, Poliquin was a fighter who was not about to give up so easily.

She delved into her recovery – with the support of her family and friends, which brings us today, almost a year after she was sidelined.

Today Poliquin has gained 70 per cent of her visual field back but has permanent loss of the remaining 30 per cent of her left visual field.

The experience, Poliquin writes on her University Hospital Foundation fundraising page, got her into thinking about helping other patients and their families.

“Many of us have family members who have had a stroke,” she says. “We’ve seen the impact and how devastating it can be.”

The week before her stroke, Poliquin pulled out of the Fat Dog 120-miler in the third leg because of an injury.

“I thought there just has to be a way to give back,” said Poliquin on Thursday. “There’s got to be a way that we could use the positives of running to try and fundraise for (the hospital).”

Her goal is to raise $1,000 per mile of the 120-mile race. The money will go towards the development of a rapid blood test for stroke.

“This is not just for Alberta,” she said. “This could be for across Canada, worldwide if it works. It would be incredible because stroke is so hard for patients and even harder on the families.”

Poliquin said the reality is stroke does not happen only to older Canadians. It can affect to anyone at any age even children.

“Only five per cent of strokes are diagnosed in a timely manner,” she said. “The longer time between diagnosis and treatment, the more chance of disability or death.”

Raise your hand if you know someone who has had a stroke or maybe you had one yourself.

I think this is a cause we can all get behind.

To read more about Amber’s journey and to donate visit Strides for Strokes at To find out more about stroke prevention visit


Find Running with Rhyno on Facebook and @CrystalRhyno on Twitter. Send your column ideas, photos and stories to

Just Posted

City Hall Park construction begins next week

Construction to update Red Deer’s City Hall Park is set to begin… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Jazz at the Lake begins

The 16 annual event began Friday and runs until Sunday in Sylvan Lake

Photos: Lunchtime tunes on Alexander Way

Final concert of the summer

Clearwater regional firefighters in B.C.

Crew operating west of Prince George

PHOTOS: Samson Cree Nation Pow Wow

The Samson Cree Nation hosted its annual Pow Wow, celebrating youth last weekend

WATCH: Feasting at Red Deer Ribfest this weekend

Ribfest runs until Sunday at Rotary Recreation Park

Street Tales: Life is filled with unlearned lessons

There are days that I almost believe evolutionists in that we are… Continue reading

Canadians believe in immigration but concerned about asylum seekers: study

OTTAWA — Canadians are generally supportive of current immigration levels, a survey… Continue reading

Quebec announces plan to compensate taxi drivers after Uber’s arrival

MONTREAL — The Quebec government has outlined how it intends to compensate… Continue reading

Hospitals to see ‘delays’ in care after losing Saudi students, health group says

OTTAWA — The loss of Saudi Arabian resident physicians in Canada’s hospitals… Continue reading

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

Death Valley worker has seen highest, lowest temperatures

LAS VEGAS — Thousands of tourists descend on Death Valley each summer… Continue reading

Banff’s Sunshine ski resort upset with proposed guidelines from Parks Canada

BANFF, Alta. — An internationally known ski resort in Banff National Park… Continue reading

Folk singer Ian Tyson cancels show due to ‘serious medical situation’

TORONTO — Canadian folk singer-songwriter Ian Tyson has cancelled his appearance at… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month