Young advocate for stroke victims remembered as ‘tsunami’ ahead of memorial in Overland Park

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- A Johnson County family is mourning the loss of a young woman who aspired to help fellow stroke survivors.

Olathe native Blake Ephraim, 21, died on July 15 in Arizona, where her family relocated nearly three years ago. On Thursday, her family planned to gather for a memorial service in her honor.

In her 21 years, Ephraim left a large positive impression on the world.

The Olathe South graduate no longer called Johnson County her home, but the people who knew and loved her during her time there are due to assemble Thursday night at Congregation Beth Torah near 127th Street.

Blake Ephraim

In 2013, Ephraim was only 16 when she suffered a debilitating stroke. It was then the former Falcon cheerleader dedicated herself to helping young people who`d also endured traumatic brain injuries.

"I guess the last 30 seconds was peaceful," Lisa Wilcox, Ephraim's mother, said while fighting back tears of grief. "It's still hard to know she's gone."

Wilcox said Ephraim began suffering Grand Mal seizures in late 2017. Wilcox said her eldest daughter passed out the morning of July 15 and never fully recovered.

In 2015, FOX4 talked with Blake about her stroke and her decision to reach out to the families of young stroke victims, no matter where they lived.

Ephraim's family said she'd made friends in all four corners of the United States, as well as Canada, by connecting with family members who weren't sure if their loved ones could recover from the effects of their strokes.

Chloe Ephraim, the youngest of Wilcox's three children, said her sister's strength convinced those families a full comeback was possible.

"You knew who she was," Chloe Ephraim said. "You knew her outreach and what she could do with a few words. She knew so many people from so many different ways that we couldn't go anyplace without sharing her story or someone knowing who she was."

"Her stubbornness is what allowed her to reach out to everyone because, after the stroke, it was restrictions, restrictions, restrictions. She wasn't having it," said Alex Ephraim, Blake's brother.

Blake's loved ones said she stayed determined to help others until the end. A cheerleading scholarship has been established at Olathe South High School in her name. Also, Ephraim's Falling Forward Foundation continues its outreach to assist survivors of traumatic brain injuries, honoring her memory as it does.

"I hope people who were touched by Blake will think about who she was, and try to emulate her life and giving to each other and helping each other. The world is a better place for Blake being here," Wilcox said.

Blake`s family said her contributions aren't finished yet. Alex Ephraim compared his sister to a tsunami since her strong influence on others was proven to spread waves of compassion, some of which are still radiating, and will continue to long after she departs.

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