Wrightstown Ironman runs marathon less than a year after surviving a stroke

Bob LeCaptain ran dozens of marathons, even the Boston -- twice -- but the biggest hill he faced was overcoming a stroke.
Published: May. 31, 2023 at 5:51 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 1, 2023 at 9:03 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Wrightstown’s Bob LeCaptain is an Ironman, a marathoner, and a stroke survivor.

It’s a story of perseverance as National Stroke Awareness Month comes to an end on Wednesday, but the risk remains 365 days a year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, someone has a stroke in the U.S. every 40 seconds. Every four minutes, someone in the U.S. dies of a stroke.

LeCaptain’s wife, Tracy, remembered the signs and symptoms of a stroke to get Bob the medical treatment he needed right away.

While LeCaptain was getting ready for bed on August 15, 2022, he suffered a stroke at the age of 45.

“I had a slight small headache once I hit the pillow and so I had the idea of, I’ll just get up and get some Tylenol and I felt like my arm was sinking into the bed,” said LeCaptain. “I wasn’t able to push myself up. So I tried, like rocking my feet back and using momentum to get up.”

“I could see that he was forcing himself up with the whole left side of his body wasn’t moving,” said Tracy LeCaptain, Bob’s wife. “I was asking him to smile so he could prove to me that yes, he was having that facial droop and I knew right away that those were signs of stroke.”

Tracy instantly called 911 and within an hour, LeCaptain arrived at HSHS St. Vincent Hospital to get the emergency care he needed.

Dr. Alison Meyer, Prevea Health Neurointerventional Radiologist at HSHS St. Vincent Hospital, said timing is everything when someone suffers a stroke.

A stroke is where there is a lack of blood flow to the brain.

“Every 10 minutes is one more stroke point on that stroke scale for that patient and in terms of recovery,” said Dr. Meyer. “It’s really important, the faster we can get to them, the better their outcomes will be regardless of their age.”

LeCaptain spent six-plus weeks in the hospital with a few complications along the way. He had to learn to talk and walk again.

“He completed an Ironman and it was just really hard because here you have someone who did such a strenuous triathlon, and now he has to learn how to walk again. So it was that was hard to see,” said Tracy.

A difficult journey but a journey LeCaptain said wouldn’t even be possible if it weren’t for the team of caregivers and the quick actions of his wife that night in August.

“I just remember seeing a commercial years ago and for whatever reason, it just stuck with me,” said Tracy.

Dr. Meyer said people who suffer a stroke often don’t realize they are having one, so it’s up to others around them to remember the acronym ‘BE FAST’

  • B – Balance difficulty: Sudden loss of balance or coordination, weakness or dizziness
  • E – Eye changes: Sudden onset of vision changes in one or both eyes
  • F – Face drooping: Sudden onset of facial drooping, usually on one side
  • A – Arm weakness: Sudden weakness or numbness in the arm, leg or face, usually on one side of the body
  • S – Speech difficulty: Sudden onset of trouble speaking or difficulty in understanding speech
  • T – Terrible headache: Sudden onset on severe headache with no known cause

“There is recovery from a stroke, and it takes a village to do this hard work, but it is so worth it,” said Dr. Meyer. “I know why come to work every day. I know why I’m here so hopefully we can share that with the community. And like I said, just getting that word out to make sure that people know what the signs and symptoms are and get them to us so we can take care of them.”

It’s been a long road to recovery for LeCaptain. It’s been 279 days since his stroke and LeCaptain recently finished a marathon with all the support around him.

“My wife and kids are awesome. They don’t care if you finish first, or 501, and I was closer to 501 than first, let’s just say that,” said LeCaptain.

“If we can just help one person know the signs and symptoms to help one of their loved ones, then it’s worth us sharing our story because that made such a difference for us and it’s all about that timing and getting the care as soon as possible. That makes a huge difference,” said Tracy.