Penny Santoro loves using her story to encourage people to understand the warning signs of a stroke.

She’s even used storytelling as part of her recovery. Last winter, she wrote “The Reinvention of Perky Penny” a first-person story for the American Stroke Association’s Stroke Connection magazine. Her message: Never give up.

Penny’s story begins in 2009, when she began to experience blurred vision . Soon, she had all the classic symptoms: paralysis on one side, a drooping face and slurred speech.

A torn carotid artery caused her stroke. Once it was surgically repaired, she began rebuilding her life. Speech came back quickly. Going from a wheelchair to a walker to a cane, then eventually to running, were all huge milestones.

Penny now drives, cooks and works part-time. She’s looking forward to her daughter Jessica’s wedding this summer, and seeks more ways to talk about the importance of the work being done by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association.

In addition to promoting the warning signs of stroke, the American Stroke Association emphasizes that the disease is largely preventable, treatable and beatable. Your donation can make a difference in the lives of people like Penny and, hopefully, countless others who never become stroke patients.

“I just want to stress the importance of stroke support groups for survivors and their caregivers,” she said. “Never give up.”