Spin-spiration for rehab

North York resident recovers from stroke and launches spinathon


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Lara Kaufman (centre) with her daughters Kailee (left) and Nicole

Five years ago, Lara Kaufman couldn’t even climb onto a spin bike, let alone ride one. She was 41 years old and the entire left side of her body was paralyzed from a stroke she suffered on a ski trip with her husband and three children in Collingwood. Now, Kaufman is the driving force behind the charity event Rocket Ride 4 Rehab that raises funds through spinning — with all proceeds going to the Rocket Family Upper Extremity Clinic at Toronto Rehab, University Health Network.

The event, held on April 25 at the  spin studio Rocket Cycle (686 St. Clair Ave. W.), raised upwards of $109,000, $13,000 of which Kaufman and her husband Peter raised themselves — although the campaign is accepting donations until the end of May. 

With the help of the rehab clinic, Kaufman said she has made “huge gains.” The effects of her stroke made it so that she was unable to walk, drive or do something as simple as eat and read at the same time. But now, she is gearing up for a two-kilometre walk this spring and rides a recumbent bike regularly. Also a volunteer at Toronto Rehab, on the stroke floor every week, she meets with patients to hear their stories and share her own. 

“Seeing me and the fact that I’ve recovered so much in five years shows that they can, too,” she said. “So many people see themselves on a one-way hill going downward, but it’s actually on a climbing hill going upward. It’s a climb, no question, but it’s an upward climb,” she added.

“It’s been said that we’re not in control of the things that happen to us, rather in the attitude that we have toward the things that happen. We have the choice to either dwell and be miserable or we can ride,” said Kaufman. “So let’s ride.”

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