Before experiencing three debilitating strokes, Davida Godett lead a normal life as a single mother and career woman. At the time of her first stroke, in 2005, Godett spent her days working as an accountant in the financial industry.
“I love accounting,” she said. “I just wanted to be in a office somewhere. It was something I truly wanted to do.”
Godett holds a bachelor’s of science degree in accounting and a master’s degree in business administration. She has always set lofty goals for herself.
“Eventually I wanted to become a tax lawyer, “she said. “My goal was to balance the fact of being a mom and being successful.”
After her first stroke occurred, life went back to normal. She was able to return to work, and continue her studies in graduate school. Eighteen months came and went without her experiencing any noticeable ill affects from her stroke.
Things were different the second time around. Her son was older, and she was enrolled in a master certificate program for supply chain management.
“I still worked after the second stroke”, she said. “It was just that processing numbers and writing was difficult.”
Simple tasks such as counting change from a purchase became a struggle.
“I can’t subtract the amount in my head to make sure the change is correct,” she explains. “I would have to assume that they gave me the right amount. Doing that was nothing to me before, so it is those skills that tend to deteriorate with strokes.”
After attempting to work for a short while, she took a leave of absence. Performing her daily job duties proved too much. While on leave from work, and six months after the second stroke, Godett suffered a third stroke. This lead to heart procedures and a host of difficulties.
She was forced to leave work for good and to seek out a new way to take care of her family.
“In may of 2007 I had the pleasure of speaking at an event organized by the late Yolanda King, Martin Luther King’s daughter,” she said.
The event was a part of King’s initiative, Power to End Stroke, described as “an educational and awareness campaign that embraces and celebrates the culture, energy, creativity and lifestyles of Americans,” and that “unites people to help make an impact on the high incidence of stroke within their communities.”
“I was able to tell my story at this event,” Godett said. “When I was there she (King) looked at me and said ‘You have work to do.’”
Godett wasn’t sure how to process that statement, but it surely had an effect on her. She hadn’t thought about being an activist for stroke prevention, she was merely telling her story at an event. She was inspired nonetheless.
“Her statement resonated with me,” Godett reflected.
Godett’s son Chauncey was four at the time, and had to leave summer camp due to his mother’s condition, which so had an impact on the young children that he developed a desire to become a doctor.
“I saw that he was taking on a caretaker role, an emotional caretaker,” she said, “and that kind of devastated me. He was able to look at me and tell if I wasn’t feeling well.”
Chauncey prompted his mother to finally take action. She began working with Christel Aviles, a woman with a background in the field of education. They formed a non-profit and developed a program called Life Begins, aimed at children of stroke survivors and designed as a two-week overnight camp that offers emotional support.
“The camp was meant to give them a reprieve after experiencing that emotional breakdown,” she said.
Chauncey wasn’t finished inspiring his mother’s activism. One day he stated to his mother a need to teach children about strokes and their many effects.
She wrote down his suggestions, and with partner Aviles, ironed out the framework for an educational program they named Chauncey’s Choice.
Under the umbrella of the non-profits, Healthy Thoughts, Life Begins, and Chauncey’s Choice operate as outlets for stroke awareness.
The programs have focused primarily on Philadelphia’s surrounding townships and Northeast Philadelphia, although the Shower Me with Love initiative, which provides stroke survivors with toiletries to live a hygienic life, is sponsored with the Montgomery County Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta.
Since starting, Godett and Aviles have won numerous accolades, and have thrived off of the generosity of many organizations.
Most recently Godett was recognized by The Philadelphia Tribune as one of “10 People Under 40 to Watch in 2013.” Her efforts are documented and can be tracked at www.healthythoughtsworld.org.