BY: MERI PERRA
Remember this great kid?
Last month, 11-year-old Andrew shared his story of acquiring a brain injury as a result of a stroke for our #areyouaware campaign. If you read what Andrew wrote, you know that his story is beyond powerful – his stroke occurred just this past winter, and he is facing more brain surgery in the upcoming months. But none of this stopped Andrew from heading back to grade five as soon as he checked out of Holland Bloorview, finishing his school year, and then wanting to give back.
Andrew asked his parents if he could have a website for his 11th birthday. While Andrew says, he was “just joking around” his mom and dad took his request seriously, and with some parental guidance, Andrew recently launched www.iloveyourbrain.com.
“It’s for kids who have brain injuries, so they know there are other kids who have brain injuries,” Andrew said.
Andrew wants to reach out to other pediatric stroke survivors in particular, since he says he has never met other kids who have acquired a brain injury as a result of a stroke. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, three to six kids per 100, 000 in the 28-days to 18-year-old age bracket will experience a stroke, which is a higher incidence rate than brain tumours.
“Not just only older people and adult can have strokes, but kids can have them too,” Andrew said.
The statement, ‘You don’t know how strong you are until it’s the only choice you have‘ is in the centre of the home page of www.iloveyourbrain.com, and strikes a chord with Andrew’s bravery during his recovery. Andrew says his mom, Nadine Vermeulen, found the quote on-line, and he also has a t-shirt with the statement on it.
“You need to be strong to survive things and fight things,” Andrew said.
Due to his recovery, Andrew’s summer activities are fairly limited right now, though the tough 11-year-old does have stuff going on. He is playing golf, and The Whitby Major Mosquito A baseball team, the Chiefs, are letting him practise with them this season. After a chance encounter with his mother, a former Colorado Rockies pitcher who lives in Andrew’s neighbourhood is going to toss the ball around with him, too.
Meanwhile, Andrew says his brain injury has – understandably – impacted his friends and family. He said before his stroke, his friends were pretty good at wearing bike helmets, but his brother was not.
“Well, he does now,” Andrew said.
To find out more about pediatric stroke and get support, contact the Canadian Pediatric Stroke Association. The Heart and Stroke Foundation has a resource guide for parents of pediatric stroke survivors. And be sure to check out Andrew’s website: www.iloveyourbrain.com
Meri Perra is the communications and support coordinator at BIST.