Ryan Companies gives back to Ankeny nonprofit after employee survives stroke

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ANKENY, Iowa – On Tuesday, Ryan Companies’ employees spent the day at the nonprofit On With Life in Ankeny after one of its employees suffered a stroke and spent time at the center.

In May, 57-year-old Brian Clark suffered a stroke in his home in the middle of the night.

“It was a feeling of not knowing what’s happening at the moment. My wife was very alert and called 911 right away. I was slurring my words. Couldn’t feel my left side,” Clark said.

The stroke came as a surprise to Clark, who says he lived a healthy lifestyle. His life was hanging in the balance.

“I had emergency surgery … They did a frenectomy [and] removed a clot on the right side of my brain,” said Clark.

Following his emergency surgery, On With Life admitted Clark, where he underwent three hours of therapy every day for five weeks. Clark worked closely with the center speech pathologist.

“It was like a 20-, 25-minute presentation to us and just showing those skills, public speaking and organization with a PowerPoint,” said Claire Gripenberg, a speech-language pathologist at On With Life.

On Tuesday, Clark used his landscape architecture degree to help his co-workers plant perennial flowers, one American red oak tree, fix a shelter’s roof in the garden, and repair a retaining wall on the nonprofit’s property.

“Brian is such a valued member of our team. We felt it important to support On With Life,” said Matt Hillis, the vice president of construction at Ryan Companies. “We felt that it was a great opportunity to help out our community.”

While Clark continues to receive outpatient care, he hopes that his favorite tree, the American red oak, will give patients at the nonprofit hope.

“The northern red oak because it’s strong, resilient and very adaptive,” said Clark. “It kind of represents the patients here at On With Life,”

Click here to learn about the signs of a stroke.

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