ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a stroke. A local stroke survivor and caretaker share their love story with 23 News and tell us why they say having a support system helped them through tough times.
"I was a caregiver to my husband who had two debilitating strokes," explains Ann Eversman.
Ann Eversman was married to the love of her life for more than 58 years.
"One morning, I had gone to the Y and came home. I walked in the bedroom and he was lying on the floor. I thought 'What are you doing? Exercises?' and then I noticed his mouth and his eyes rolled back into his head. I called 9-1-1," says Ann Eversman, describing the first time her husband had a stroke.
Ann's husband suffered another stroke in 2010 and died in 2011. As a caregiver, Ann joined a stroke support group and helped raise money for Stroke Camp. She helped fundraise during an event called Trivia Night, where she met Bill Didier.
Didier also had a stroke. He took care of his wife of 61 years until she died from stroke complications, as well.
"When my wife first died," explains Didier, "for that first year, I didn't do much of anything. Then I got involved with the support group and fundraiser and that's how I met Ann."
Ann Eversman relives the moment she met her Bill Didier, saying, "We were sitting there playing cards and this gentleman walks in. I said 'Well, what are you doing here?' We just became good friends."
The two enjoy being in each other's company. They got married last year on Ann's 86th birthday.
"We're very happy. We wanted companionship," says Ann. Her new husband agrees, "We get along good. We can kid with each other. We always said just to be truthful."
Both Ann and Bill say its the support group and Stroke Camp that helped them heal from losing their loved ones and brought new love into their life.
All three hospitals in Rockford and Van Matre Rehab Hospital provide financial support to host the Stroke Camp. 30 stroke caretakers and survivors will attend camp this summer.