Through faith and activity, one man finds hope

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Nine years ago, Wayne Wolf suffered a stroke. Now he’s taking his life back.

By Deborah Swearingen

It hasn’t been easy, and it may never be. But with every step and every stretch, Wayne Wolf finds healing.


Nine years ago, at the healthy age of 45, Wolf had a stroke. Within minutes, he went from being being an active and successful business owner to being immobile and incapable of putting his thoughts into words. But after years of inpatient and outpatient therapy, Wolf decided to toss his wheelchair aside and take matters into his own hands.

“I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t talk,” he said. “Now, I can do everything.”

Working with his girlfriend Lizie Ketelhut, whom he met in 2007, Wolf began frequenting Club USA Fitness in South Jeffco. He travels nearly seven miles down Wadsworth Boulevard at least three times a week for workouts. Through this, Wolf has become a well-known face at the gym, where many extend a smile or a warm greeting to Wolf as he circles the track.

By now, he has his routine down pat. He walks — and walks — and walks some more. He stretches. He lifts weights. With Ketelhut’s support, Wolf does it all.

On one afternoon in February, Ketelhut watched with pride as Wolf lifted weights with his left arm — the one that works best.

“If people have the determination and the drive to do that, they will be … more independent,” she said.

So much of recovery is about attitude and mindset. Because of this, Wolf has no qualms about sharing his story. He hopes his pain and his triumph will motivate others and help stroke survivors push through tough times.

“I want to have a book because I want to help people,” he said. “A lot of people have strokes.”

“You have to go. You have to do,” he said, noting the role exercise and activity can play in recovery. “ … You can do anything you put your mind to.”

This is something encouraged by the American Stroke Association as well. According to the association, physical activity improves heart function and lowers blood pressure. It reduces the risk of diabetes and improves strength, balance, endurance and long-term brain health.

“For stroke survivors, these benefits can spell the difference between dependence and independence,” the association notes.

But Wolf and Ketelhut recognize that maintaining a positive attitude can be difficult. Without a dedicated support system — and even with one — it can be a real challenge to see the future as hopeful. That’s what Wolf is striving to change, and it is why he is so appreciative to have the support he does.

“She is a saint. She is unbelievable. She helped me so much,” Wolf said of Ketelhut, acknowledging the journey has been a struggle for her, too.

Ketelhut was there along the way, helping Wolf relearn everything, and she helped instill a sense of faith in him, and a sense of love.

“I don’t have a lot of money,” Wolf said. “I have a lot of love.”

Contact reporter Deborah Swearingen at dswearingen@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1042. Follow her on Twitter @djswearingen.