Tedy's Team Turns 10: A Message from His Father

Team Member Frank Mastrangelo



The Mastrangelo family: (l to r) AJ, Donna, Cailey and Frank

Silence was Frank Mastrangelo’s first clue that something was wrong. "I was driving my two children home from summer camp in June 2006, and they were in the backseat yelling about something and then it all went completely quiet," he said. He turned around and saw their mouths moving but heard no sound for half a minute, but then his hearing returned.

When he got to the school where his wife Donna worked, he felt numbness and went to the restroom. "I work as an EMT so I knew something was up when I couldn’t grasp my zipper with my right hand," he said. He checked his face in the mirror — nothing drooping. But there was still numbness in his right arm and shoulder. He decided an ER visit was in order. "Then I did exactly what I tell other people not to do — I drove myself to the ER." He was 42.

At the hospital, an MRI revealed a small dead spot in his brain (a sign of an infarction or stroke), and a follow-up ultrasound showed the cause — a patent foramen ovale (PFO), a hole between the upper chambers of his heart. "Somewhere a clot formed, slipped through that hole and, as my doctor described it, took the expressway to my brain instead of getting caught in my lungs." And here’s an ironic twist — Frank’s father had died of an ischemic stroke on the same day, June 26, one year before at age 72.

While in the hospital, Frank read about PFOs in an American Stroke Association brochure, and on the back he found information about Train To End Stroke (TTES), a program in which participants trained for a marathon while raising money for stroke research. He had just started running to lose weight before his stroke, so after his hematologist cleared him, Frank joined TTES and ran his first marathon in honor of his dad at Disneyworld in January 2007.

Soon after he learned about Tedy’s Team training for the Boston Marathon in April. "It looked pretty cool and I really wanted to get connected with that," Frank said.

Frank has now run six marathons and four halfmarathons, most of them as a member of Tedy’s Team and Train to End Stroke, as well as seven Falmouth Road Races in the summer. That is no small achievement for "a big, hairy Italian who had never been an athlete," he said. After he turned 50, he stopped running distance races to spend more time with his family, cutting back to 12-15 miles a week. "There is a lot of training involved with running marathons, and that takes a lot of time," he said. "I felt like I was doing Cailey and AJ a disservice as they got older." Cailey is a high school senior and AJ is a freshman.

Though not running competitively, he is still involved in the Boston Marathon, serving as a medical committee member and on race day overseeing 350 medical volunteers who serve beyond the finish line. "We take care of all the medical needs of all the runners," Frank said, "but I always have my eye out for members of Tedy’s Team and make sure they have water and anything else they need."

When Frank talks about Tedy’s Team, it’s clear that the camaraderie was a big part of why he continued running. "You become really close with your teammates to the point where they’re like family," he said. "They need something, they call me. I need something, I call them. We’ve had several Tedy’s Team reunions. And it’s cool going back and seeing everybody. We’ve shared a lot of special times, memories I’ll certainly never forget."

And even though he’s not running marathons, Frank hasn’t given up running races. This summer he is going to do the Falmouth Road Race with Tedy’s Team.

"It was a little creepy having a stroke exactly one year after my dad died of one," Frank said. "But because of the stroke I found out about the PFO and got it fixed. And I’ve made a lot of healthy changes — eating better, reducing stress, losing weight. I kind of figured it was my dad sitting up there saying, ‘Hey, you better get your big fat butt in gear and start exercising.’"

See all segments of Tedy's Team Turns 10:

Tedy's Team Turns 10

A Stroke on the Ice

Every Mile for Mom & Dad

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Stroke Rehabilitation

Making the Best Decisions at Discharge After Stroke

The type of rehabilitation and support systems a survivor receives at discharge can strongly influence health outcomes and recovery. In this, the first part of a two-part series on stroke rehab, we offer guidance for the decision-making process required when it’s time to leave the hospital.

What to Expect from Outpatient Rehab

After stroke, about two-thirds of survivors receive some type of rehabilitation. Outpatient therapy may consist of Several types of therapy. Whether a patient is referred to inpatient or outpatient therapy depends on the level of medical care required.

What to Expect in Stroke Rehab

Following a stroke, about two-thirds of survivors receive some type rehabilitation. In this second of our two-part series, we want to alleviate some of the mystery, fear and anxiety around the inpatient rehab part of the stroke recovery journey.
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AHA-ASA Resources

The Support Network

When faced with challenges recovering from heart disease or stroke, it’s important to have emotional support. That is why we created a network to connect patients and loved ones with others during their journey.

Caregiver Guide to Stroke

The Caregiver Guide to Stroke is meant to help caregivers better navigate the recovery process and the financial and social implications of a stroke.

Stroke Support Group Finder

To find a group near you, simply enter your ZIP code and a mile radius. If your initial search does not pull up any groups, try

Tips for Daily Living Library

This volunteer-powered library gathers tips and ideas from stroke survivors, caregivers and healthcare professionals all over the country who’ve created or discovered adaptive and often innovative ways to get things done!

Stroke Family Warmline

The Warmline connects stroke survivors and their families with an ASA team member who can provide support, helpful information or just a listening ear.

Let's Talk About Stroke Patient Information Sheets

Let's Talk About Stroke is a series of downloadable patient information sheets, created by the American Stroke Association, that presents information in a question-and-answer format that's brief, easy to follow and easy to read.

Request Free Stroke Information Packets

Fill out this online form to request free information about a variety of post-stroke topics.
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Stroke & Parts of the Brain

When Stroke Affects the Occipital Lobe

Our occipital lobe, the smallest of the four lobes of the cerebral cortex, controls how we visually interpret our world.

When Stroke Affects the Cerebellum

The cerebellum contains 80 percent of our neurons. Its job seems to be to make things better. We talked with neuroscientist Jeremy Schmahmann about how stroke affects the “little brain.”

When Stroke Affects the Parietal Lobe

The parietal lobe helps us make sense of sensory information, like where our bodies and body parts are in space, our sense of touch, and the part of our vision that deals with the location of objects.

When Stroke Affects the Frontal Lobe

Of the four lobes that make up the cerebral cortex, the frontal lobe is the largest. It plays a huge role in many of the functions that make us human — memory, language, movement, judgment, abstract thinking.

When Stroke Affects the Temporal Lobe

The temporal lobe has several functions, mainly involved with memory, perception and language.

When Stroke Affects the Brain Stem

The brain stem serves as a bridge in the nervous system. It sits at the top of the spinal column in the center of the brain. When a stroke happens there, it can cause a few different deficits and, in the most severe cases, can lead to locked-in syndrome.

When Stroke Affects the Thalamus

The thalamus can be thought of as a "relay station," receiving signals from the brain’s outer regions (cerebral cortex), interpreting them, then sending them to other areas of the brain to complete their job.
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Departments

Stroke Notes

Stroke-related news you can use about new scientific findings, public policy, programs and resources.

Readers Room

Articles, poems and art submitted by stroke survivors and their loved ones.

Life Is Why

Everyone has a reason to live a longer, healthier life. These stroke survivors, caregivers and others share their 'whys'. We'd love for you to share yours, too!

Everyday Survival

Practical tips and advice for day-to day living after stroke.

Life At The Curb

A unique perspective on survival by comedian and stroke survivor John Kawie.

Simple Cooking

Cooking at home can be a daunting task, but a rewarding one for your diet and lifestyle (and your wallet). Making small changes in your diet is important to your heart health. Here are simple, healthy and affordable recipes and cooking tips.

Helping Others Understand

Stroke affects people differently and many of the effects of stroke can be complicated. Helping friends and family understand how a stroke is affecting a survivor can help everyone involved.

Support Showcase

Our new department highlighting the good work being done by stroke support groups from around the nation. If you are part of a successful support group we should consider featuring, let us know!