ALBANY — Stroke is the nation’s No. 5 killer, and leading cause of disability. The American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, is hosting CycleNation to raise awareness about that fact — and raise the funds to change the statistic.
Dr. Alan Boulos, Chair of Neurosurgery, Co-Director of the Neurosciences Institute and Professor of Neurosurgery and Radiology at Albany Med, and Kate Fruscione, Public Relations Strategist at CAP COM Federal Credit Union, are leading the Capital Region’s CycleNation, which will culminate in a celebration on World Stroke Day, Oct. 29. The celebration will have two parts: a local digital event from 6-6:30 p.m., and the national event from 6:30-7 p.m., where participants in all the CycleNation events across the country will come together.
Between now and then, Dr. Boulos and Fruscione are recruiting and challenging CycleNation participants to bike, hike, run, walk, or whatever kind of exercise they want to do, to help the country achieve One CycleNation’s goal of getting 1 million miles of exercise, and raise $1 million.
“CycleNation is a great activity because it brings everyone together to talk about stroke awareness,” said Dr. Boulos, who also co-chaired CycleNation in 2019. “The more people who can recognize the symptoms of a stroke and the more we can prevent a recurrence of stroke, the healthier we’ll be.”
“I’m so excited to co-chair the re-imagined digital CycleNation 2020,” Fruscione said. “It’s fitting for us to hold a nationwide event on World Stroke Day, since CycleNation was designed as a stroke-facing event. This experience will help us raise funds for future research, and by moving to a digital platform we can reach even more people.”
Fruscione had a personal reason to chair CycleNation, which also continued CAP COM’s longtime support of the American Stroke Association and American Heart Association.
“So many people in the Capital Region have experienced cardiovascular disease, and the work of the Stroke Association focuses on that,” Fruscione said. “My fiancé’s grandmother was a cherished member of his family, and I never got to meet her because she passed away from a stroke. If there are lives that can be lengthened, why not help with research funds and awareness?”
Dr. Boulos returned to co-chair CycleNation because of its connection to his work.
“The American Stroke Association’s science and research is critical to my daily work,” Dr. Boulos said. “The need to continue studying the causes of stroke and how to treat it has become even more important in the face of COVID-19. By participating in CycleNation, we can keep advancing stroke care and improve our own health at the same time.”
A Delaware native, Dr. Boulos attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy for two years and then studied at Albany Medical College for four years to complete his medical degree as part of a combined six-year program. He did his neurosurgery residency at Albany Med, then received the Sean Mullen Neuroendovascular Fellowship at Millard Fillmore Hospital in Buffalo. He returned to Albany Med in 2002. Dr. Boulos lives in Glenmont with his wife, Maria, a pediatric radiologist with Community Care Physicians who also practices at the Bernard & Millie Duker Children’s Hospital at Albany Med. They have three sons.
Fruscione, originally from Delmar, lives in Albany. She has a degree in broadcast journalism and mass communications from SUNY Oswego. She has co-chaired “Taste of Albany” to benefit the Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless, and volunteered with Best Buddies. She is engaged to Kevin Bluhm.
Dr. Boulos is president and Fruscione is a member of the Capital Region Board of Directors of the American Heart Association. Both of their organizations are longtime supporters of the American Stroke Association and American Heart Association.
For four years, Albany Med and the American Heart Association have worked together in a special “Life is Why” collaboration. CAP COM Federal Credit Union supports its employees’ health and regularly supports and leads American heart Association initiatives.
Dr. Boulos touts cycling, the original sport behind CycleNation, as a great activity.
“It’s a healthy activity, with low impact on your joints and offers benefits to preventing stroke and living a healthy life,” he said. “Historically, the CycleNation event does that in a fun way. It’s great that we can expand to other activities, and celebrate on a digital platform.”
“We’re gathering new teams and new participants, all to gain awareness about stroke,” Fruscione said. “I want FAST – Face Drooping; Arm Weakness; Slurred Speech; Time to Call 911 – to become as well known as Stop, Drop and Roll. CycleNation will help people gain awareness about stroke.”
“My fellow board members are putting their commitment into strong action,” said Jennifer Corcoran Conway, chair of the Capital Region Board of Directors for the American Heart Association, and partner at Tully Rinckey. “It’s awesome that they have pivoted to offer a digital event that lets us keep fighting stroke. COVID hasn’t stopped that need, and I look forward to everyone being part of this event.”
To register for CycleNation, visit CycleNation.org/CapitalRegionNY. There is a tracker on the CycleNation app that makes it simple for participants to track their mileage. A leaderboard on the Web site shows who had gone the farthest distance, and who leads in fundraising.
Dr. Boulos and Fruscione are joined by CycleNation committee members: Jack Bevilacqua, Albany Airport Fire Department; Joan Clifford, The Sage Colleges; Katrina Dinan; Mark Duffy, SEFCU; Rosella Elliott; Toni Howard, ABC Sports and Fitness; Susan LaFond, NYSUT; Robbie Maccue, REVA; Cassandra Moore, Glens Falls Hospital; Mickey Orta, NBT Bank; Cheryl Patak, CAP COM FCU; Sara Rindenello, Albany Med; Dr. Mandeep Sidhu, Albany Med; Kristen VanAlphen, Albany Med; Adrienne Weitzel, MSN, RN, Albany Med.