Join Suzanne’s Journey…

Suzanne Cliff (center) with Christina Dandola,
PT, DPT, NCS (left) and Karen J. Nolan,
PhD (right) of Kessler Foundation

I’ve always been a take-charge kind of person. As a wife, mother, daughter, and sister, I’m the one who organizes, arranges, and makes sure everyone is taken care of. I also love to cook and delight in having my family and friends gathered around my table.

That all changed seven years ago. I had just put my “famous” mushroom lasagna in the oven when I suddenly slumped to the floor. At the hospital, doctors explained I’d had a stroke, the result of a blood clot in my brain. I didn’t believe them and insisted they were wrong. I wasn’t prepared for them to be right.

My name is Suzanne Cliff, and I am a stroke survivor. I’ve learned to adapt to life with paralysis and even to let others take care of me. It hasn’t been easy. But thanks to Kessler Foundation and your generous support of Kessler Foundation donors, I’m reclaiming my independence and regaining control of my life. But I still have work to do, as do so many others like me. With your support, Kessler Foundation can continue to conduct the pioneering research that will help so many of us striving to recover.

After weeks of rehabilitation at Kessler Institute, I returned home to my amazingly supportive family—my husband, two children, siblings, and parents—and developed a new “recipe” for daily living that helped me get back on my feet… until I fell and fractured my hip. Surgery, followed by more therapy, set me back physically and emotionally. It was then that one of my Kessler Institute therapists encouraged me to join the groundbreaking research at Kessler Foundation led by Karen J. Nolan, PhD, associate director of the Center for Mobility and Rehabilitation Engineering Research.

I’ve been fortunate to participate in several studies involving the use of an exoskeleton. If you’re not familiar with this technology, let me tell you: It’s exciting. These wearable robotic devices are transforming how people with paralysis regain the ability to walk.

Kessler Foundation researchers are literally and figuratively making great strides in understanding recovery. But more research is needed to understand how recovery happens and bring innovative treatments to people who need them. I ask you to celebrate this Mother’s Day with a life-changing gift to Kessler Foundation. Every dollar you give will fund research that will help people like me live as independently as possible and enjoy life with those we love most.


Suzanne cliff (first row, right) with her family, Dr. Karen J. Nolan (back row, center) and the robotic exoskeleton research team.
Suzanne cliff (first row, right) with her "chosen" family, Dr. Karen J. Nolan
(back row, center) and the robotic exoskeleton research team.

At every step of this journey, I’ve been blessed to have the love and support of my family—my “given” family. I’m also indebted to my “chosen” family—the researchers at Kessler Foundation who have transformed my life. I’m grateful for their knowledge, encouragement, and determination. They understand that giving up is never an option for me. And like them, I’m committed to making a difference in how people recover.

Your support of Kessler Foundation research makes all this and more possible. I’ve had the opportunity to test various exoskeletons and braces and provide feedback to researchers and industry leaders. My voice is being heard, which is empowering. Equally important, my strength, balance, and gait have improved, and with that, I have realized that I am again in charge of my future.

There are no words to adequately express my gratitude for your support of Kessler Foundation. Thanks to you, people like me are increasingly able to resume our lives with confidence and independence. But more research is needed.

When I am able, I want to bring my “chosen” Kessler Foundation family to my table to share mushroom lasagna with my “given” family.

Will you help? Together, on this Mother’s Day, we can ensure that life-changing rehabilitation research continues.



With deep appreciation,

Suzanne Cliff
Wife, Mother, Daughter, Sister, Home Chef,
Stroke Survivor, Kessler Foundation Research Participant