Braden Everly's Story
From the American Heart Association -- Denver
2016 Heart Ball
Braden was a healthy 12 year old boy who loved life and lived for playing football. He was at a friend’s pool party when he started to feel like something was wrong. He lost all color in his vision, he struggled to understand anyone who was trying to help him, and he completely lost his balance. He lost his ability to walk and talk and his speech was slurred. Even with those symptoms, his stroke wasn't diagnosed until one week later. He underwent three brain surgeries and spent the next year slowly regaining his speech and basic gross motor skills. Watch this powerful video
and see how suffering a stroke at age 12 has shaped his life and given him the impetus to make a difference for others.
Four Teen Stroke Survivors: Their Inspirational Stories
All four of these girls from Kansas City, MO suffered massive strokes during their high school careers. After long and hard recoveries, all four were able to graduate on time. This is a powerful, inspirational video
and a reminder that strokes can happen at ANY age. The full version of this video can be found here
Surviving and Thriving After Pediatric Stroke
Coordinating care for a child who has special needs can seem overwhelming and daunting at first. Consulting with medical professionals to build a team is one of the first steps. See how these very inspirational parents are advocating for their son Jackson with a wonderful team of specialists at Swedish Hospital in Seattle. It is a powerful story of hope and optimism. Jackson's Journey
Emily Simpson: Children and Young People's Courage Award
Emily Simpson was just 10 years old when she suffered a stroke in July 2012. The Stroke Association
presents the Courage Award to someone who is under 18 and demonstrates inspirational courage in overcoming personal, physical, emotional and communication problems after their stroke. We think you will see why this remarkable young girl was the recipient by reading about her here
and watching the powerful video that is posted on that page.
A Parent's Perspective: Dear Mama of 2009
At 17, Derek Marshall suffered a stroke and needed brain surgery. Staying positive has helped Derek meet his goals — graduating high school and heading to college — and now he’s sharing his words of wisdom with other kids who’ve experienced a stroke. Read his story here
from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Pediatric Stroke Program newsletter. Derek is also the author a book of poems, Somehow
and has a website
where you can read more inspiration from this incredible young man!
Beth Sinfield was 17 when she woke up on September 16, 2012 and couldn't move a single muscle. After being taken to the hospital an MRI confirmed that Beth had suffered a massive stroke. Beth is using her blog to share her story and help raise awareness that strokes can an do happen at any age. You can follow her blog
and read how her positive attitude is helping her reach her goals in life.
Real Mom: My Baby Had a Stroke
Writer Lisa Applegate shares a mother's perspective of raising a son who suffered a perinatal stroke in Parents Magazine. My Baby Had a Stroke
How I feel about having Cerebral Palsy
By Cathryn G., age 12, Alpharetta, Georgia
For me, Cerebral Palsy is a blessing and a curse. On the upside, I’ve gotten to meet so many amazing and kind people, and do things I probably wouldn’t have otherwise gotten to do. On the downside, having CP has a lot of challenges and pain. I’ve been bullied and called names like “weird”. When I was little people used to come up to me and ask “Why do you walk like that?”. That really hurt my feelings.
Also, they would stare at me (and sometimes still do) like I was an alien from another planet. It made me really sad. More sad than I can even explain. Sometimes girls wouldn’t be friends with me and I couldn’t figure out why. I wondered if it was because I did things a little differently. I wish I could have played on regular sports teams like my sister and taken more dance lessons, but it never really worked out, and I was embarrassed to be slower and not as good as everyone else. I didn’t want people to laugh at me.
My feet hurt a lot and my balance isn’t great. I’ve always wanted to ride a two-wheeled bicycle like other kids. People take riding a bike for granted but a lot of kids with CP can’t ride a regular one at all. Kids with CP want to have friends just like everyone else. We are just like everyone else. Really we are. It really hurts to not be invited to sleepovers and birthday parties – especially when they are for roller skating or ice skating. I wish I could do that.
The good news is that I have improved so much though! I also learned to push through every obstacle people throw at me with the help of my family and friends. I rarely give up and am very determined even though it seems like I often have to work harder than everyone else to do the same things. I’m grateful my family, friends, therapists and doctors have helped me so much through the years. I didn’t like the surgeries and all the therapy I’ve had, but I know it’s made me better and stronger. Now I play the piano, love to sing, ski, swim, and get mostly straight A’s. I’m working on getting stronger by trying to do 1000 toe raises, squats and bridges every single day so it will improve my walking. That is really not easy!
My mom also started this foundation, Reaching for the Stars where many awesome people search for a cure and new treatments for cerebral palsy, and I’m absolutely sure they’ll find it. My mom talks about cerebral palsy and Reaching for the Stars a lot. She is always searching out the newest ideas and talking to scientists and doctors. I often “get to try” many of the new ideas and therapies. Mostly that is awesome, but sometimes I’d rather just be a regular girl and not talk about cerebral palsy. Sometimes I don’t even want to think about it. I want to be like everyone else. I even wrote a song about it that I performed called “Regular Girl“. As I’ve gotten older though, I am determined to make a difference for other kids and let them know they are not alone. That’s why I’m excited to be part of the CP Kids Coalition.
My mom and dad have done so much for me, I cannot thank them enough. I also have a 14 year old sister who doesn’t have CP. It’s sometimes hard to see all the sports and dance she does so effortlessly with legs and feet that are straight and strong. Sometimes I get jealous but I still love her and think she’s the best.
Cerebral Palsy has impacted my life in many ways but it’s not who I am. I’d rather not have it though because it makes things harder to do and takes a lot of time to deal with. I know together we can find new treatments and a cure. My advice to other kids with CP who might read this is, no matter what people say about you, don’t give up, because I guarantee that everything will get better. The future is bright.
Reprinted with permission
Ryley Williams: A Road to Recovery
Ryley was a healthy 15 year-old at football practice when he collapsed on the field. Hours later, his mom learned he had suffered multiple ischemic strokes. After many weeks in the hospital and intense therapy Ryley's brain has to start all over again. Re-learning every basic motor skill. Two years later, Ryley continues weekly therapy and learns to deal with his "new normal". Watch Ryley's powerful story
Alexis Loves Basketball,
From Nancy Wenzel
Alexis is our daughter. She is 11 years old and the most amazing kid ever! She had a stroke when she was born. They told us she may never walk or talk. She has been out to prove everyone wrong ever since. She is the most determined, strong and loving kid.
She fell in love with basketball at the age of 2. She got her first hoop that summer has been practicing ever since. She spends all summer in the driveway shooting hoops! She is so amazing and I hope she inspires you as much as she does us!
From the Boston WCVB News, see more of Alexis’ story
One Minute on the Ice
From Doug and Leah Chaulk
Teenagers may think they’re invincible, but one St. John’s family found out how untrue that is. Canada NTV’s Glen Carter speaks with Doug and Leah Chaulk, whose 15-year-old son, Jordan, was struck down by a stroke while playing hockey.
Firstly I have to say hemiplegia is so frustrating, you have no idea. I can sit and sit just willing my right arm to reach to pick up a pencil I've dropped on the floor, and it feels like my arm is being purposely defiant, laughing at me trying so hard and having little success.
When your children play they probably feel as I do, anger at their body for not doing as it’s told. They have no way to get across their feelings, particularly if they are too young to verbalize them or if they have learning difficulties, so anger is the only way they can get across the frustration and hurt they are feeling inside, the injustice of it all.
They will realize in time that there isn't any rhyme or reason in the whole hemiplegia business. With your help they'll learn, just as I did, that there'll never be an answer to the question "why me?" and they'll accept that and carry on with their lives regardless. In the meantime - as silly as this seems - be grateful for their anger, it’s a means of communication, ok it’s not the best way to communicate but still it’s the best your children can do for now. They have anger so they have energy, they have the ability to think, to know, that hemiplegia is frustrating. If they were calm all the time, if hemiplegia didn't bother them, if they weren't concerned they can't run as fast or as far as their classmates etc. then they'd never try and they'd never want to reach their full potential.
So you have to - somehow - encourage them, find a positive way for them to release their anger. Keep telling them it’s ok to be angry, you would too if your arm and leg were weak/hurting but anger is not productive and it certainly is not ok to bite etc. because it hurts, and hurting someone not a nice thing to do. I know you'll probably have tried that a million times already but keep saying it! Re-enforcing it will help it sink in. As they get older, tell them it’s not their fault, it’s nothing they've done, and they're not alone, you will always be there for them to talk and you love them more than anything in the world. You have to have the patience of a saint, but it'll be worth it. Anger will turn into tears but then they will calm down and peace will be restored.
It will get easier, I promise.
Reprinted with permission