There are a few misconceptions about stroke that Michelle Lim would like to clear up: it isn’t a natural part of ageing or a condition that afflicts only the elderly, or a disease that can’t be prevented. And raising awareness of stroke prevention matters as much to her as her efforts to raise funds to support stroke patients in their recovery.
“This topic is very close to me personally because [being in the healthcare industry], I’ve seen the devastating effects of stroke and other diseases,” she says. Not only is the individual affected, but “because the stroke recovery process is a long-drawn process, the impact it has on the family is actually quite huge.”
“To be able to help not only the individual but their families get through the process is something I find very meaningful.”
It’s not about who raised the most funds; it’s more the fact that every dollar you raise goes to improving lives.”Michelle Lim
To Lim, stroke patients in Singapore are a relatively underserved group, given the smaller number of organisations devoted to them. So, together with MWH Medical (founded by her parents), Lim threw her weight behind the nonprofit Stroke Support Station (S3), which was founded in 2015. Starting out as a volunteer with S3, she went on to organise the charity’s first gala dinner in 2016 as part of MWH Medical’s CSR efforts. With under eight months to plan a large-scale event for the fledgling charity, Lim believes the $1.5 million raised was “a barometer of the fact that we also managed to generate awareness about stroke”.
Stroke Support Station (S3) S3 is an initiative started by volunteers in 2015 to meet the unmet needs of stroke survivors and caregivers on their stroke journey. A volunteer-led organisation, S3 is supported by medical professionals and therapists from the National University Health System and other hospitals. s3.org.sg
Lim finds purpose in supporting stroke survivors after their discharge from hospital, which is when the rehabilitation process begins. Besides investing in advanced equipment — such as stroke exoskeletons and anti-gravity treadmills — S3 runs programmes that go beyond targeting physical recovery. This includes speech therapy, mental wellness and support for the patients’ families and caregivers.
But S3’s wellness programmes are reaching their full capacity: some have wait lists of up to three months, and the organisation currently operates just two centres, one in Redhill and the other in Jurong.
“Ideally, the faster you start a [stroke recovery programme], the better [the outcome], but it’s just a limited resource,” Lim says.
“Our efforts now focus on improving the programmes and looking at where we should open our next location so we can reach out to more stroke survivors.”
Ultimately, Lim is motivated by more than just hitting fundraising goals.
“When you see the impact [of fundraising] and how it improves stroke survivors’ lives and that of their caregivers and families, that is something that you get a sense of satisfaction from,” she says. “It’s not about who raised the most funds; it’s more the fact that every dollar you raise goes to improving their lives.”