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The American Stroke Challenge Begins

May is Stroke Awareness Month.

For the second year in row, we'll kick off the American Stroke Challenge. Pro golfers Meg Mallon, who was with us last year, and Justin Leonard join us as they begin their month-long Battle of the Sexes--one component of the Stroke Challenge.

Millions of Americans can join pro golfers Meg Mallon and Justin Leonard in the American Stroke Challenge--the stroke awareness and fundraising initiative sponsored by Bayer Aspirin in partnership with the American Stroke Association (ASA), a division of the American Heart Association.

Both golfers have their personal stories to tell. Mallon's 76-year-old mother has suffered several ministrokes in recent years. She is doing well at the moment but the family history puts Meg at risk. Meg's mom exercises regularly and follows an aspirin regimen prescribed by her doctor. This is Meg's second year in the American Stroke Challenge.

Leonard lost his grandfather to heart disease, a factor in determining stroke risk. Leonard has made a personal commitment to heart attack and stroke education and has pledged to increase awareness by regularly donating monies from his winnings to the American Heart Association and volunteering his time to support American Heart Association education programs.

Stoke can impact the minds, bodies, and lives of stroke sufferers and their families. According to the ASA, 600,000 Americans will suffer a new or recurrent stroke this year. It is the third leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer and causes nearly 160,000 deaths each year--one death every 3.3 minutes. Knowing the warning signs and seeking immediate medical attention can significantly reduce the severity of long-term disability and the billions of dollars that are spent on medical costs.

For those who have experienced an ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attacks (TSA), aspirin has been proven to reduce the risk of another ischemic stroke when taken as directed by a doctor. Aspirin is not appropriate for everyone.

Mallon and Leonard will kick off the challenge at the Golf Club at Chelsea Piers with a chipping and putting contest to raise funds for the ASA. They'll also share information about their personal connections to strokes and challenge Americans to learn stroke-warning signs. People are invited to join in and have both their stroke risk and their golf swings evaluated. Chelsea Piers is just the start of this year's effort.

Mallon is set to defend her title in the American Stroke Challenge against Leonard. Last year Mallon out-birdied Corey Pavin in their respective LPGA and PGA events during the month of May. This year Bayer Aspirin will donate $1,500 to the ASA for every birdie Mallon and Leonard sink in their respective tour events during the month of May. The money supports stroke education and research programs. This is the seventh year of the competition, which has raised more tha $1 million for the ASA.

Americans can participate in the challenge by visiting one of the 100 participating public golf courses in New York City, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Indianapolis, Miami, and Phoenix and signing up for the $1 Million Hole-in-One Contest as well as having their stroke risk assessed. Golfers can also sign up for the contest using an entry form found in their Sunday papers during May and June.

Ten people (one from each market) along with one randomly selected national sweepstakes winner will play a round of golf with Mallon and Leonard and shoot for a chance to win $1 million on September 17 at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Florida. If a participant shoots a hole-in-one, that player will win $1 million and Bayer Aspirin will donate an additional $1 million to the ASA. Also, one lucky participant will drive away in a 2001 Volkswagen Golf.
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