GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - What happened to Jordan Pastorek's brother, Jeremy, back in June could happen to anyone of any age.
"He was actually up changing a light at his house, and he started acting weird. He fell off the ladder, started slurring his speech," Jordan explained of his 28-year-old brother.
Although Jeremy had suffered heart problems as a child and young adult, his family didn't expect the diagnosis. Jeremy had suffered a massive stroke. Even at 28 years old, the Mississippi College Law student barely survived the ordeal and spent weeks in intensive care at a Jackson hospital. He is still in the midst of a long, expensive recovery.
"It was a miracle," Jordan said of his brother. "The fact that he survived."
Jordan spent the weekend helping his brother and family at the Gautier Mullet and Music Festival. He sat alongside vendors of all kinds, with one very affordable offer. A small donation bought a raffle ticket for a plane ride, piloted by Jordan. All proceeds go to help temper his brother's mounting medical bills.
"I could get somebody in the community up in the airplane and fly, and show them what I love to do," Jordan explained. "I just thought it was a good use of my passion of flying that would help my little brother out."
This family is only one of thousands touched by stroke. Singing River Hospital Critical Care Director Susan Russell says almost 800,000 people are affected by stroke every year. In fact, she said it's the number three killer in the United States and the primary cause of disability in adults. According to Russell, the death rate of stroke has decreased in recent years, but the condition still takes a huge toll.
"With stroke a reality, maybe you wake up unable to speak, unable to move," Russell explained. "Maybe your cognition is impaired which means you may not be able to do simple math, be able to read anymore. That's where it's virtually impossible for people having suffered a stroke to go back to their work duties immediately."
Most of those are much older than Jeremy, but Russell says a stroke and the long recovery that follows, can be especially devastating to a young person.
"People in their 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's, usually aren't prepared to no longer go out and be breadwinners, as are people in their 60's or 70's and have already retired," Russell said. "So it is much harder for people in earlier decades of life to be able to cope with the needs of stroke."
Jordan said he appreciates the support from his community.
"When I see people read the story, a lot of them are very concerned," Jordan explained. "And you can see, people are compassionate, and when you read about a 28-year-old having a stroke it kinda hits you."
You can read more about Jeremy's story, as told by his wife, Monica. There is a benefit fund set up on their behalf at Whitney Bank. It's called Jeremy Pastorek's Medical Fund.
Russell said some strokes can be prevented by monitoring cholesterol, heart health and leading a healthy lifestyle.