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Multiple stroke survivor celebrates life at dragon boat races

Watch above: Multiple stroke survivor Christi Hergott shares her story at the Saskatoon Dragon Boat Festival on Saturday. Amber Rockliffe reports.

SASKATOON – At the age of 22, Christi Hergott had three strokes within seven months. Her first stroke lasted for hours.

“A headache woke me up, not a big deal, so I went to get some Tylenol and water and went back to bed,” she said.

“I got up, had no use of my body, was very disoriented.”

After trying to do tasks throughout the day, she lost feeling in her left hand in the evening, and decided to phone her friend, who took her to hospital.

READ MORE: More Canadians surviving stroke, but living with long-term disability: report

After her strokes, Hergott said she fought to do the everyday things many take for granted.

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“To this day, I have blood muscle loss, my foot doesn’t work all the way,” she explained.

“But I’m alive, and what else can I ask for really.”

On Saturday, Hergott shared her story with hundreds of other survivors and their families at the Saskatoon Dragon Boat Festival.

“It’s a lot more prevalent than people think. In Saskatchewan, at least nine out of ten people have at least one risk factor, and one Canadian dies every seven minutes from heart disease or stroke,” explained Lorie Langenfurth, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Last year, the event raised more than $250,000 for the foundation.

“We have 35 teams. There’s an average of 20 to 22 people per team, and so about 800 paddlers, and then their friends, family, and the general public are coming down as well,” Langenfurth explained.

The event featured performances from the Confucius Institute and the Saskatchewan Chinese Dance School, a family fun zone and dozens of vendors.

Langenfurth plans to continue telling her story, to help ensure more people can come home to the ones they love after having a stroke.