Jeff Wolfenden experienced a stroke in 2008 at the young age of 41. An active individual before his stroke, Jeff pushed himself through his recovery through the support of his family and friends. He once told MODC in an interview that he “had to learn the entire pace of my life had completely changed. He knew he would need to work hard, having already survived a heart attack at 36 years old. Jeff threw himself into his recovery, and was able to walk and talk six weeks later when he left the hospital.
During his continuous road of recovery Jeff was always looking for a place to fit in. At 41 he knew the importance of peer support, but he also had young kids to raise, was looking to get back to work and back to coaching hockey and riding his motorcycle. He continued to work hard and through his determination he was able to start coaching again, but not allowed back on the ice - something he would take in stride and laugh about when telling people his story.
Knowing that more was needed for young stroke survivors, MODC identified Jeff as a person that could help this group of people and approached him to start a Young Stroke Survivor Chapter in Hamilton. He took on this opportunity and opened the door for those who also experienced a stroke at a younger age, those looking for others with a similar experience and those who wanted to get back to a level of activity they used to have before stroke.
Fast forward to 2013, Jeff married the love of his life Jennifer whom he met at the Chapter. Together they have become synonymous with stroke recovery in the Hamilton area and have lead the way of advocacy for not only themselves but for those that attend their group and other stroke survivors across the country. The couple continued to be active with MODC taking on new opportunities including the expansion of our Peers Fostering Hope program at Hamilton General Hospital. They helped to recruit members of their Chapter as well as started to volunteer for the program.
Together they would visit stroke survivors in hospital always embodying the very principles of the program such as providing hope, and encouraging reintegration into the community after stroke. They led by example in their community, encouraging those who have had a stroke to continue with their rehab and educating those who have not, what their journey was like. They met each challenge together and in the end they found each other understood each other's experience and they shared the importance of community and the importance of community.
Part of Jeff’s journey saw him get back on his bike and plan a long ride in July to take in the country and continue to push himself and enjoy every moment of life. During this ride, a mere 750 kms from home, he was in a fatal accident.
Jeff’s legacy will not be what happened during that ride. He touched the lives of countless people, giving empathy to what they were going through, providing a voice to numerous awareness campaigns and always being there for anyone in need, especially his family.
He once said in an interview with CBC about him and Jennifer, "I really hope we give people a sense of hope and value that things can change. Things can be bad, but they can get better and they can have life again."
Jeff will be deeply missed by those he met because of his infectious personality, caring spirit and his ability to support those around him in so many ways.
In lieu of flowers, the Wolfendens have asked for donations in honour of Jeff to be made to the Strides for the General campaign which Jeff and Jennifer Wolfenden were patient ambassadors for in 2018.
To donate visit
www.hamiltonhealth.ca/memorialgiving and designate to Strides For The General.
To donate towards March of Dimes Canada's After Stroke services in Tribute to Jeff: