​​​​​​​​​Angela Horner
At the age of 49, Angela Horner had a massive stroke that left her in a coma with a very poor prognosis. It was during her rehabilitation at Toronto Rehab that she was inspired to become a volunteer. (Photo: Volunteer Resources)

Meet Angela Horner, former Toronto Rehab patient turned volunteer.

Rewind to January 1999: Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman called in 400 soldiers to help clear a blizzard that hit the city with 35-45 centimetres of snow. That snowy night was the same night Horner had a stroke that would change her life forever.

Beating the odds

At the age of 49, Horner had a massive stroke that left her in a coma with a very poor prognosis. Her family was told they should start to make funeral arrangements. Despite spending three and a half weeks in a coma and removal of a pheochromocytoma (a tumor found to be the cause of her stroke), Horner beat the odds and came through.

After a few months, she was admitted to Toronto Rehab where she would spend the next 20 months. Horner was first admitted to the University Centre in the Stroke program, where she spent four months, followed by 16 months at the E.W. Bickle Center in the Complex Continuing Care program.

Inspiration strikes: filling a void for patients

During her hospitalization, Horner felt so lucky to have the love and support of family and friends – but she quickly noticed not everyone was as fortunate. She knew first hand having an abundance of visitors and encouragement improved a patient's outlook and could help them to achieve their therapeutic goals. Horner knew then and there that she would return as a volunteer. She wanted to help patients going through a similar experience, especially those who might not have family and friends close by to visit. She was so passionate about wanting to volunteer, that volunteering became her therapeutic goal; she started simulating volunteer visits during her Occupational Therapy sessions.

Angela Horner: present day

Thirteen years later, Horner is still sharing her experience and positive outlook with patients at Bickle. She's always happy to come in for her weekly volunteer shift and meet new patients.

"When I'm volunteering, I still think about my own stay at Toronto Rehab, and I can understand some of the emotions patients might be experiencing," said Horner. "Having someone there to share this with is so important. Being able to provide that support for patients is really meaningful."

Join us on Tuesday April 8, 5:15-7:30 p.m. in the Auditorium of Toronto Rehab's University Centre for our Volunteer Recognition Education Event, where Horner will be discussing her experiences and how she applies them to her volunteer role.

Special thanks to Kelly Campbell, Program Coordinator, Toronto Rehab – Bickle Centre, for submitting this story.


National Volunteer Week is April 6-12, 2014. Have you thanked a volunteer today? As part of this year's Volunteer Week, you can call the Volunt-Hear Hotline at 1-855-373-5077 between March 23 and April 12 to thank a volunteer. To learn more about National Volunteer Week, click here .

Follow Toronto Rehab Volunteer Resources on Twitter and Facebook:
@TRIvolunteering​ -- suggested hashtags for National Volunteer Week: #TRINVW and #UHNNVW.www.facebook.com/TRIvolunteering

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