Georgia stroke survivor walks daughter down aisle

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Tammy Woodward remembers hearing an odd sound that January 2015 morning: a snore, that didn't sound like a snore.

"Strange, a little strange noise," Woodward remembers.

It was coming from her husband of 30 years, Price Woodward.

"So, I gave him a little nudge," she says.

But Woodward, a 52-year-old financial executive and father of three girls, who was so healthy he ran marathons for fun, didn't move.

"I don't know how I knew, but I knew something was really wrong, seriously wrong," Tammy Woodward says.

She called 911.

"That was the last thing I remember until 2 weeks later, when I woke up in the ICU," Price Woodward says.

That's when Woodward learned he'd had stroke during his sleep, which had paralyzed his entire left side.

"My life was permanently changed," he says.

After 2 months in a St. Louis hospital, the Woodwards came to Shepherd Center in Atlanta.

"I was in a wheelchair," Woodward says.  "I couldn't sit up. I couldn't even hold myself up."

Still, for the first time since his stroke, Woodward says, he felt hope at Shepherd Center.

He threw himself into recovery, first as an inpatient, then as a day patient, them moving on to Shepherd's Beyond Therapy program.

That's when the couple’s middle daughter, Watson Harris, broke the news to her parents she and her boyfriend Austin had become engaged.

"She said, 'Dad, we want to get married, but I don't want to put any pressure on you, because I know you're fighting as hard as you can to get better,'" Price Woodward says.  "And I said, 'You don't worry about me.  I will be there. And I will walk you don't the aisle with my cane.'"

Harris was touched by her dad's promise.

"He definitely said out loud, 'This is my goal, this is a big motivator for me,'" she says.

Woodward was still working to get back on his feet, so he turned to Shepherd Center exercise physiologist Taylor Jones, who is with the Beyond Therapy program.

"I said, 'Taylor, I'm going to walk my daughter down the aisle, but I can't do it without your help,'" Price remembers.

Jones understood his motivation.

"I mean, I have a little girl, I want to walk her down the aisle," Taylor says. "And, I don't want anything to stop me from doing that."

Taylor and Woodward got to work.

"We systematically set out on a day by day plan, and it wasn't easy, because they took me out of my comfort zone," Price Woodward says.

Tammy Woodward says she and her daughter never doubted Price would deliver on his promise.

'I think she's just seen him keep pushing and never giving up," she says.  "When things get hard, you don't quit; you keep looking for the good, looking for the positive."

On May 28, 2016, using braces and a cane, Price Woodward walked his daughter down the aisle.

"It was surreal," Watson Harris says. "Just all the emotions.  There was not a dry eye in the room.  I felt a sense of peace."

He was new to using a cane, and Woodward says he walked slowly, focusing on not stepping on his daughter's train.

"She kind of held me up," he laughs.  "I think she walked me down the aisle."

Harris says it was a powerful moment for their family and everyone present that day.

 "I just had flashbacks of everything we had been through, and all the progress he had made up to that point," she says.

When it came time for the father-daughter dance, they were overcome by emotion.

"We just cried on each other’s shoulder the whole time," Price Woodward remembers.

There they were:  a father and a daughter, celebrating a promise kept.

"We just kind of hugged and swayed back and forth and soaked in the moment," Watson Harris remembers.  "That was definitely special."

Price Woodward is now 3 and half years out from his stroke.

He is still working on his recovery and trying to educate people about the warning signs of stroke. He is participating in the American Stroke Association's " I Will Again" awareness campaign.

The American Stroke Association says the word "FAST" is an easy was to remember stroke symptoms:

F is for FACE. Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

A is for ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S is for SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?

T is for TIME: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.