By Fred Swegles
America’s community of stroke survivors has lost a champion with the passing of San Clemente resident Mycle Brandy at age 68.
A four-time stroke survivor, Brandy refused to let disabilities get him down. He crisscrossed America three times on foot, visiting stroke patients in hospitals along the way, assuring them that there can be life after stroke if they just get active again.
Brandy was preparing in recent months for a fourth cross-country trek. He told his wife, Louise, that he wasn’t feeling well on Friday, May 17, then died peacefully at home of natural causes, she said.
“He was honored to walk for others and help inspire survivors everywhere to keeping going!” she posted on his Facebook page, “Walking Across America with Mycle Brandy,” which counted 3,939 followers.
In 2010, Brandy set out on his 59th birthday to walk from the West Coast across America to Washington, D.C.
Along his route, in newspaper and TV interviews, he spread messages of hope. To sedentary stroke victims, his mantra was, “Walk to your mailbox today … walk past your mailbox tomorrow.”
It took him eight months to complete his 2,940-mile walk to the nation’s capital, where he climbed the steps of the Lincoln Memorial together with inspired stroke victims who had joined him for his finale.
His second walk took him 1,450 miles up the West Coast, from San Diego to Seattle. On his third trek, he began on a bridge linking Canada with Maine and walked down the Eastern Seaboard 2,100 miles to Miami.
During each walk, Brandy realized he was risking his life, walking alongside roads—some without shoulders—knowing that at any time he could suffer a split-second neurological failure on his right side, a byproduct of stroke. If his cane wasn’t planted, he would collapse. It happened several times. Once, in Virginia, a car came within inches of him as he lay on the ground.
“I turned my head toward the road, and the wheel was probably less than a foot from my face,” he said in a 2013 interview.
On all three walks, stroke patients and other fans would follow his progress on Facebook. He occasionally was joined by a stroke survivor who might walk a mile with him. Others, less capable, would wait for his arrival to shake his hand and thank him for making a difference.
After Maine-to-Miami, his efforts to complete a fourth walk from Portland, OR, to various locations on the East Coast did not pan out. Twice, volunteer drivers of a support vehicle faced emergencies and had to quit, partway into the walk. Then, in the fall of 2018, Brandy found himself trying to walk through smoke from Wyoming wildfires. Lung damage forced him to quit.
He returned home, unsure if the lung damage was permanent. Over time, he recovered and said he found a volunteer driver for a planned 2019 endeavor.
“I hope you are as excited as me about my new walk ‘Sea 2 Shining Sea,’ ” he posted May 2 on Facebook. “I’ll be visiting hospitals and stroke survivors across America, but this time I’ll also be honoring our heroes from the Wildland Firefighters Foundation!!”
“It’s in my bones,” he said in a Nov. 2018 interview. “I have to walk.”
As word of his passing spread, hundreds of nationwide condolences appeared on Facebook.
“He was an inspiration to us on our new journey of stroke,” wrote one follower.
“He was a great advocate for many and had a pure heart of giving,” wrote another.
“My friend, super hero, he taught me to deal with my stroke head on,” wrote another.
A memorial is set for 1:30 p.m. Sunday, May 26, at Fairhaven Mortuary, 27856 Center Drive, Mission Viejo. Those who wish may donate to a stroke-related charity of their choice.