Madonna Rehabilitation Hospitals

Stroke survivor recognized on World Stroke Day

October 29, 2019

The Nebraska State Stroke Association presented the Stephanie Wever Courage Award to stroke survivor and former Madonna patient and volunteer David Melvin on World Stroke Day at Madonna’s Lincoln Campus.

“I am honored, I was not expecting this,” Dave said as he accepted the distinguished honor in front of more than 40 people, including much of his patient care team that he worked with while he recovered from his stroke at Madonna.

Now 67 years old, Dave suffered a stroke in 2016 while undergoing a total hip replacement surgery. After recovering at a Lincoln hospital, Dave checked in to Madonna Rehabilitation’s Lincoln Campus, where his wife, Terri, was an employee. Dave pushed through three months of intensive rehabilitation to regain mobility and speech, making great strides and always asking his therapy team to push him harder.

Even after he discharged from Madonna, Dave never really left. He began a new journey as a volunteer at the hospital. In fact, he put in more than 1,000 volunteer hours where he helped out in the business office and became known as a “greeter” to people going through outpatient therapy before stepping down from his post to join his wife in retirement. Dave even took the extra time to visit with the many members of his care team that played integral roles during his recovery, and would also stop in to meet new patients, providing them with words of encouragement as they began rehabilitation.

“He is the best greeter Madonna has ever had,” Gail Fickensher, who co-nominated Dave for the award, said.

“It just feels good to help somebody,” Dave said. “I love helping people, and I want them to know that they have come to the best place possible for rehabilitation of any kind.”

Dave was unaware that he was the 2019 recipient of the Stephanie Wever Courage Award, which recognizes a stroke survivor from Nebraska who exemplifies courage in overcoming the effects of stroke.

“I was very surprised. I thought I was going to talk with a stroke survivor who was needing some advice,” Dave said, a testament to his commitment to putting others first.

Stephanie Wever, a stroke survivor and former NSSA board member, died December 25, 2015 at age 32. She was dedicated to raising awareness of strokes and her rare gene defect, ACTA2. Like Dave, Stephanie also sought Madonna for rehabilitation following a serious stroke in November 2005. Her parents, John and Deb Oliveros, continue to give back to Madonna by helping with family support groups and sponsoring two people every year for Stroke Camp.

Stroke is the leading cause of disability worldwide and, according to the World Stroke Organization, 1 in 4 people will suffer a stroke in their lifetime. In the United States, stroke is the No. 5 leading cause of death, according to the American Stroke Association.

To learn more about Madonna's nationally-accredited stroke rehabiltiation program, click here