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Maryland Woman Honored for Helping Others

Judy Crane (Left) is being honored by AARP Maryland for helping other stroke survivors. She was nominated by her longtime friend and neighbor, Nancy Seiss.
Judy Crane (Left) is being honored by AARP Maryland for helping other stroke survivors. She was nominated by her longtime friend and neighbor, Nancy Seiss.
September 29, 2016

MILLERSVILLE, Md. — At 47 years old, Judy Crane of Millersville was working from home when she experienced excruciating chest pain. She was diagnosed with ascending aortic dissection at the hospital.

Four surgeries later, Crane had a stroke and ended up with paralysis and aphasia - a communications disorder caused by damage in the parts of the brain that control language. She had difficulty speaking, listening, reading and writing. Yet even as she was recovering and going through physical therapy, Crane started the Young Aphasia Communications Club.

"I wanted to be able to talk to somebody that had gone through something like this,” she said. "I was in the middle of raising my kids and I had a great career, and I wanted to talk to someone about, you know, what do you do."

Crane also started volunteering at Anne Arundel Medical Center and is now the leading patient advisor there.

Judy Crane is this year's recipient of the Andrus Award for Community Service from AARP Maryland. State Director Hank Greenburg said her commitment to overcoming adversity and her success in turning personal challenges into an opportunity to serve others are great examples of the difference that volunteerism can make.

Crane has also taught classes and run peer groups, and has served on the board of directors at the Snyder Center. She was nominated for the AARP award by her friend and neighbor, Nancy Seiss, who said Crane's sense of humor and compassion turned into a way to help.

"Judy just found the silver lining in this incredible event and started working with other people who'd had strokes,” Seiss praised. "At 47, Judy was in a different position than most people who have had strokes. She still had a full life to deal with, and she realized there were other people who were like that."

Crane tells others who have suffered from disabling events to put all the energy that used to go into their career into a commitment to get better. She said when there is hope, quality of life can improve.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD