May is National Stroke Awareness Month, and a local teacher wants to get the word out to her students and their parents about what strokes are, how to spot the signs of a stroke, and increase empathy for people who have survived a stroke.
Katie Willert is a middle school science teacher at Trinity Christian School in West Seneca. She is a three-time stroke survivor - suffering her first at just 22 years old.
Willert says the stroke rate is rising fastest in young people, so she wants to make sure her students are educated about stroke.
"The more people I can inform and help educate about the whole stroke process the better," Willert said.
According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in the U.S. Strokes kill about 140,000 Americans every year, but the CDC says 80% of strokes are preventable.
More than 795,000 people in the U.S. suffer strokes every year; about 610,000 of those are first or new strokes, according to the CDC. That means nearly 1 of 4 strokes hit people who have had one before.
To educate students, Willert is doing two interactive stroke presentations - one with Trinity Christian School, and one with Mount Mercy Academy.