Memorial stroke survivor’s marathon promotes health, honors vets
Even after a stroke in 2016, retired Marine Eddie deRoulet walked nearly 10 hours and 26.2 miles at Memorial City Mall on Sunday, Nov. 11, for Veterans Day and his 66th birthday.
deRoulet said by completing the trek, he wanted to show others that life could continue after having a stroke or other medical setbacks.
“I see so many people who say, ‘I’ve had a stroke, and my life is over.’ I say, ’No, it has changed my life, but it hasn’t taken away from it,” deRoulet said.
He retired from the Marine Corps in 1994 after 20 years and said back then he would go out for long runs all the time. He said his desire to stay active even after surviving a stroke and cancer comes from that Marine mentality.
“To me, it’s I walk, or I die. It’s my saying because I’ve lost about 25 pounds just walking since the stroke,” deRoulet said. “Since I don’t work, it’s given me incentive to keep going. There are some mornings when I say, ‘Ugh, I really don’t want to go do it,’ and I’ll go walk nine, 10, 11 or 12 miles.”
The other purpose of his long trek, deRoulet said, was to honor those who have served in the military. Along the way, people asked him if he was a disabled vet. He told them he was disabled and also a veteran but was never disabled from his service. deRoulet said his walking saluted those who were.
He said he expected needing to take a day off after the big Veterans Day walk. Instead, he got up at 5:45 a.m. and walked 11 miles, he said with a chuckle.
So far this year, deRoulet has walked about 3,300 miles and the distance of more than 116 marathons. He does the distance of a marathon every two to three days and expects to walk about 3,600 miles by year’s end.
A diabetic, deRoulet said he is healthier than he has been in five years and that all his medical numbers are now in a normal range.
Since the stroke, deRoulet doesn’t drive. He said he was grateful for his wife, who takes him most places. He also finds strength and encouragement through his Bible study class at Tallowood Baptist Church and from his stroke support group.
“Different Strokes for Different Folks” is sponsored by Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center and meets on Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. Memorial Drive United Methodist Church. The group welcomes stroke survivors and caregivers and allows them to listen, share and cope together.
“We talk about what’s going on, how we’re doing. Or some days, it’s just a place to sit and talk about how you’re feeling,” deRoulet said. “You can go and talk about ‘I fell yesterday,’ ‘I’m feeling depressed,’ ‘I’m feeling suicidal,’ etc., etc. It gives you someone to talk to who says, ‘Yeah, I’ve felt that same way. I know where you’re coming from.’”
He said, “The group has given me an avenue to share my frustrations, disappointments and hope surrounding my stroke.”
deRoulet has several health conditions and said on most days his pain level is at about a seven or eight out 10. He uses a cane and wears a leg brace, but he continues to walk because he doesn’t want to face the alternative of declining health.
“If I’m not bleeding or bruising, I’m walking,” he said.