Walker won't let stroke slow him

By merania.karauria@wanganuichronicle.co.nz, Merania Karauria

Cecil Hawkins was up at 5.30am for breakfast of porridge and toast. Then, at 7am, he walked to the shop to buy the morning paper.

It was a routine he had kept for many years, but one morning in April last year, as he sat at the dining table, everything went blank, then blue. He sat there for about 25 minutes, and when the darkness went, his porridge plate had been pushed to the side. Mr Hawkins did not know then, but he had had a stroke.

He could not move much, but then things seemed to come back to normal, he said.

"I knew I had to get to hospital. I did not know what was wrong ... I just knew something had happened," Mr Hawkins said.

He managed to call a taxi, but then wondered how he was going to get from his kitchen to the taxi.

It was a bent-over Mr Hawkins who slowly made his way out to the taxi, and then he was whisked off to hospital.

Nothing was found, and the next day the former Warrant Officer 2nd Class was well enough to attend the funeral of a returned serviceman.

Two months later, Mr Hawkins went for an eye-pressure test and the specialist told him he had suffered a stroke.

But Mr Hawkins is not one to sit around and feel sorry for himself.

In fact, he says he has been blessed through life to get to do the things he does.

It is that tenacity of the soon to be 80-year-old that will see him walking in the 5km and 10km races in the Masters Games next month for the third time.

In his first games at Wanganui, Mr Hawkins walked the 5km, 10km and half marathon, and won bronze.

The next games in Dunedin he won bronze in the 5km and 10km, and gold in the half-marathon.

"I was the only one in the marathon, and it's bloody tough ... you're on your own," he recalled.

Mr Hawkins started with a walking group before the Masters Games became an event, and they walked around the Wanganui Cemetery Circuit.

Born in Riverton in the South Island, the family moved to Otautau, 40km north of Invercargill and that is where Mr Hawkins walked a half-mile to school and back every day.

"I walk everywhere, I like it."

The Masters Games are in Wanganui from February 1 to 10.


Is it a stroke?

To test for a stroke, and respond, the acronym FAST can be used - facial weakness, arm weakness, speech difficulty, time to act.

  • Facial weakness judges whether the person can smile without their mouth or eyes dropping.

  • Arm weakness is whether the person can hold up both arms successfully.

  • Speech difficulty is about whether the person can speak clearly and understand speech.

  • Time represents the need to get to a hospital (eg calling for help) immediately.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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