Kyle Mengelkamp, a Palm Desert native is about to embark on a journey he will never forget.
Mengelkamp, a former Palm Desert Aztec, graduate of Cal State Long Beach, and most recently an Editor at NBC is used to working on great stories. He’s latest project is called "Stroke of Genius", and it has a story line he has memorized for the rest of his life.
20 years ago Kyle’s life was progressing like any normal 11 year-old. He was a student, an athlete, and surrounded by lots of close friends. The event’s that followed were a shock to everyone and would change his life, forever.
"I remember, play by play like it was yesterday." said Mengelkamp. "I was in Santa Barbara at the beach with a friend and his family." We had just finished our last day at the beach. I was taking a shower when the brain aneurysm hit me. We were rising off, seconds later, it felt like a hundred pounds or a tow truck was taking down my right side of the body.
Kyle’s friend quickly recognized his slurred speech and went for help.
"My speech had turned to a moan and I was quickly moved to our campsite. A man asked me my name. I responded, "Kyle Mengelkamp." The man turned to everyone peering over, "no response." I quickly said, "No, it’s Kyle Mengelkamp. Can you hear me." Right when I blacked out I could hear someone say, "It’s OK, it’s OK, just go to sleep." I woke up 3 days later a vegetable."
The day’s immediately following the stroke are a bit of a blur for Mengelkamp, although he does vividly recall the therapy which followed.
"The recovery was very hard. The nuero team did surgery which caused even more damage to the brain. I went through 8 hours of therapy, 5 days a week, for 2 months. When I got out of Loma Linda University, I was a part-time outpatient for 7 months, until I was finished discharged. I was told I wouldn’t recover anymore and insurance was cutting my sessions. This made me and my parents furious."
But, Kyle and his family didn’t give up. Instead, they banded together. Out to prove to the world that their work, and Kyle’s improvement wasn’t over.
"My father handled the physical therapy and my mother handled the occupational therapy. As well, not even a year out of the hospital, I went against doctors orders and started playing sports again. I knew that was a major part of my therapy. It took years, little by little we began to see gains, but the improvements were there. I was improving."
That improvement never stopped. Last month, Kyle celebrated the 20th anniversary of his aneurism. It’s a day he calls his "second birthday."
"20 years later, I am a editor in New York. It all started last month when I serendipitously won a AT&T’s create-a-thon. The piece was about my "story" and how I celebrate my life…20 years later the stroke."
While working in New York, Mengelkamp has met a group of people who have helped him find his true calling in life.
"My friend, Tammy and I decided to continue our story by finding other success stories set in a traumatic situation and bouncing back to live a happy fulfilled life. I feel this is my calling, this is what I was meant to do. There is a special connection when someone has gone through such hardships as a traumatic experience as a stroke, cancer, or other life-changing moment."
For Kyle, this project is an opportunity to shine light on a community which deserves positive attention.
"I’ve been waiting for a special project to align with something that was so close to my heart. Now, it has a purpose to give back, put other success stories in the spotlight, and make a difference in people that have lost hope, to have hope again. I hope to achieve a world-wide community of people supporting stories about never giving up to inspire other people to lite that fire, be awesome, and change the world, one story at a time."
To learn more about this film and Kyle’s journey visit: https://www.shareyourstrokeofgenius.org