​​​​​​​Image of Lara Kaufman and Howard Rocket
Lara Kaufman and Howard Rocket outside the Rocket Family Upper Extremity Clinic (Toronto Rehab Foundation). Join Toronto Rehab Foundation on April 25 for the inaugural Rocket Ride 4 Rehab spin-a-thon. Click here to register and learn more.

A life-changing day

On Feb. 13, 2010, Lara Kaufman, her husband and three children hit the slopes on a beautiful day in Collingwood Ontario. Lara, a seasoned skier, had no idea that her first run of the day would change her life forever.

Sensing that the basket of her ski pole had lodged itself under her right ski, she firmly tugged to dislodge it with unthinkable results. 

"The grip on my pole struck my neck with enough force to dissect my carotid artery," says Lara.

"I immediately experienced symptoms commonly descriptive of a stroke."

The ski patrol responded with urgency, rushed Lara off from the hill and into to an ambulance.

What happened next charted the course of what would become Lara's new normal. On route to the hospital, Lara suffered a massive stroke that left her unable to move the left side of her body.

Once in hospital, Lara clung to life. Excessive swelling in her brain required surgery to relieve the pressure.


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Each year, over 300,000 individuals survive a stroke. Of this group, 55 to 75 per cent are estimated to have some degree of upper body impairment to the shoulder, arm, forearm, wrist, or hand. Toronto Rehab's ground-breaking Rocket Family Upper Extremity Clinic is designed to directly connect new research discoveries to patient care in order to benefit individuals who live with neurological impairment after a stroke.

On April 25, 2015, the Toronto Rehab Foundation will host the inaugural Rocket Ride 4 Rehab spin-a-thon. Click here to register​, spin and sweat to support The Rocket Family Upper Extremity Clinic at Toronto Rehab.

Survival is just the beginning

Five years after extensive rehabilitation therapy at Toronto Rehab's Upper Extremity Clinic, Lara continues to receive outpatient care. With the love and support of family and friends, and the efforts of Toronto Rehab, Lara now holds herself up as a shining example of this remarkable facility; so much so, she was inspired to become an active volunteer.

Family friend and fellow Toronto Rehab patient, Howard Rocket, reached out to Lara following her accident, as he often does with those in similar circumstances.

It was in October of 1995 when Howard experienced a massive stroke weeks after receiving a striking blow to his head during a touch football game. Survival was just the beginning. Howard had to learn to walk, talk and find his way back to what was once a productive life.

"I came to Toronto Rehab in a wheelchair, and they provided me with the tools to become independent again," says Howard.​

"For that, I am forever grateful."

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In October of 1995, Howard Rocket's life changed after experiencing a massive stroke weeks after hitting his head during a touch football game. Watch his story. (Video: Toronto Rehab Foundation)

Both Howard and Lara have much to be grateful for on their road to recovery and they wish to give back to their many Rehab Champions at Toronto Rehab.​

A shared love of spin

Before Lara's accident, she was an avid indoor spinner. As fate would have it, Howard Rocket's daughter, Dana Rocket, is the co-founder of one of Toronto's most successful spin studios: Rocket Cycle. Dana is incredibly devoted to her father and has played a huge role in his recovery.​

Ever present in her studio is a recumbent bike reserved for her father. On any given day, you'll see Howard riding his bike with the determination that has carried him through the last 19 years. Aware of Lara's desire to get back on a bike, Howard gladly shares his bike with Lara so that she too can spin in his daughter's studio.

Spin, sweat, support!

So grateful for the care she has received at Toronto Rehab, Lara, with the help of Dana and Howard Rocket, proudly founded the first annual Rocket Ride 4 Rehab to raise awareness and funds for the Rocket Family Upper Extremity Clinic.

On April 25, you can support Toronto Rehab by joining us for two spin sessions led by Dana Rocket and Rory Pederzolli, co-founders of Rocket Cycle, along with special celebrity guests to pump you up!​

All participants are entered to win great prizes and will receive a t-shirt and gift bag. Spots are limited so register today at www.rocketride4rehab.com.​

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