Barrington man goes the distance to raise awareness about stroke
Michael Obel-Omia suffered a major stroke in 2016. (WJAR)

Fifty-six-year-old Michael Obel-Omia cycles most days.

It's something he did even before he had a major stroke on May 21, 2016.

NBC 10's Barbara Morse speaks to a stroke survivor who will bike across the country to raise awareness.

At first, he lost his ability to speak. Now, he has something called aphasia.

"I learned quickly that aphasia meant all my words, all my language be jumbled," said Obel-Omia.

But this former educator is determined.

"Everything I have, intellect, every idea, I have in my mind. But trying to speak is very difficult," said Obel-Omia who is finding his words, but he works hard.

Getting back on a bike at first, too, was a challenge.

"I rode for a while, about four miles. I fell down three times," said Obel-Omia.

But it's that "never say no" thinking that is helping him and others.

Michael Obel-Omia suffered a major stroke in 2016 and developed aphasia. (WJAR)

You see, Obel-Omia wants to use his words and his actions to make a difference.

He'll soon be taking part in a Stroke Across America bike ride. It starts in Portland, Oregon, and ends in Boston. Because of his son's college graduation, he'll join the ride in Montana a few weeks in.

"Most days are 60 miles, and we'll talk to people about stroke," said Obel-Omia.

He'll join four others traveling 4,000 miles --150,000 feet of it uphill over a three-month period.

"Through Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ontario, New York, and Massachusetts," said Obel-Omia.

Michael Obel-Omia plans to join a coast-to-coast bike ride to raise awareness of stroke. (WJAR)

He wants people to know the facts.

"About 2 million people have aphasia," said Obel-Omia.

He wants to raise awareness about stroke, and its emotional journey.

But, most of all, that with tenacity and hard work, he wants others to know you can get back on that bike again, even if it's metaphorical.

Obel-Omia has written a book of poetry, called "Finding My Words." He travels throughout the area, giving speeches.

He also has a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for his bike trek.

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