An upcoming bowling event aims to raise funding and awareness in the fight against aphasia and strokes.

“It’s not how you bowl,” a source of unknown origins once said, “it’s how you roll.”

The Snyder Center for Aphasia Life Enhancement and The League for People with Disabilities are counting on all of us to roll with it for their signature event on May 31. A family event at Bowlero in Timonium, the evening will feature bowling, arcade games, pizza and live music.

The gathering will also include a silent auction to benefit SCALE at The League, which offers aphasia programming for individuals who have a loss of speech due to stroke.

Originally founded in July 2008 by the Snyder Family, SCALE merged with The League for People with Disabilities in November 2014. Now celebrating 10 years in operation, SCALE is a national leader in raising awareness and advocacy for this medical condition.

Aphasia is a disorder that greatly impairs the expression and understanding of spoken language, reading and writing skills. In addition to impairing those who have suffered strokes, aphasia can also affect people with brain injuries.

Aphasia does not impair intellect, which can make having the condition even more frustrating because of the extreme difficulty communicating their thoughts.

Based at 5910 York Road, SCALE was founded as a way to bring services to people with aphasia when scant treatment existed.

“There was a lot of frustration,” said Owings Mills resident Andy Snyder, whose brother, Howard, had a stroke and the family found “few resources” to help him. Andy Snyder is chairman of the board of The League for People with Disabilities. SCALE is now a specialty program of the League’s Medical Day Program.

He is also a co-founder of SCALE, as are Pikesville resident Judi Snyder, who advocated on behalf of her husband, Howard, and speech language pathologist, Denise McCall.

SCALE is designed to “provide life participation therapy, which is based on creating a community of people with aphasia,” Andy Snyder said. “It is more of a social model than a medical one.”

McCall, who is also SCALE’s program director, said there is a dearth of covered medical treatments and resources for people with aphasia. The SCALE center is one of the only free-standing aphasia treatment sites in the nation. It serves 60 members and has helped 250 since its inception.

Estimates are that there are more than 2 million people with aphasia in the United States, making it more common than Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy.

Organizers say the center offers members and their families an opportunity to decrease their social isolation by creating a community of peers sharing similar goals and interests. Trained professionals who support and guide members as they re-engage in life activities.

SCALE members attend the center from half a day to three days a week, for five hours a day, on a semester-long basis. A variety of communication groups and computer classes are offered in addition to hands-on, interactive group activities such as art, photography and gardening.  It is similar to a community college where classes are selected based on interest.

Members participate in at least two, one-hour classes each day — with six to seven students — that are facilitated by licensed speech-language pathologists and/or therapeutic recreational specialists. Members also participate in outreach projects designed to increase awareness of aphasia in the community.   

Keith Sopher is one of SCALE’s members. He says its services have allowed him make a great deal of progress.

Sopher, 54, had a massive stroke nine years ago while he was reading a magazine. He was left debilitated, including virtually losing his ability to speak.

The condition remained severe until his wife, Jane, heard about SCALE.

“SCALE is a wonderful place,” said Keith Sopher, who has been attending the center for eight years. “It helped me build my confidence.  I am part of a community.  I help mentor others at SCALE, which makes me feel good.”

Attending SCALE “has facilitated Keith’s ability to live independently,” Jane Sopher said. “He is able to converse confidently with strangers and manage daily encounters and has worked particularly hard on improving his speech.  When he began at SCALE, Keith spoke in one or two words answers, and often retrieved the incorrect word.  Now, Keith produces sentences of seven to eight words, using a robust vocabulary.”

SCALE “is a life enhancement center that has been an incredibly important part of Keith’s recovery,” said Jane Sopher.

The Life Participation Approach to Aphasia is the foundation of all SCALE programs and services. The LPAA model is based on the latest research on aphasia treatments and provides long-term support to individuals with aphasia and helps them to re-engage in life and achieve their goals.

SCALE is the only intensive community-treatment program offering LPAA in Maryland.

The bowling benefit will be held on May 31 at 6 p.m. at Bowlero, 2165 York Road. For information call 410-323-0500, ext. 308, or visit leagueforpeople.org.

Karen Talley is an Odenton-based freelance writer.