Strides for Stroke Walk highlights pediatric stroke

Nevaeh Anderson was simply going out for a winter walk with her family three years ago when something strange happened.

"My hands started getting numb," said Nevaeh, who at the time didn’t know too much about it because she had forgotten her gloves and quickly got cold. "But we got in the car and my hands were still numb."

When she got home and warmed up, the numbness only got worse. She tried lifting her left arm to reach a bag of chips on the table, with a frightening result.

"It would smack down on the table, and it like, didn’t work," she recalled. "And then my legs started getting numb and started tripping."

Her mother, Cortney, saw what was happening, panicked, and instantly called for her husband, Ethan. "I’m like, Ethan, I think you need to take her to the hospital, like right now."

They all ended up at Children’s Minnesota Hospital, where doctors wasted no time finding the source of her paralysis.

"And they did a bunch of CAT scans and MRIs and stuff like that," remembered Nevaeh. "And then they told me that I had a stroke."

She was only 10 years old.

Children’s Minnesota doctors found the source of her stroke and performed surgery on both sides of her brain to relieve the blood flow blockage and prevent another stroke from occurring.

"I remember asking one of the nurses if this ever happened to anyone, like in my age, and they were like, yeah, like a bunch of people," said Nevaeh.

Although rare, stroke in children does happen. Data from Johns Hopkins Medicine indicates stroke happens in one of every 4,000 newborns. It also occurs in 2,000 older children each year and is among the top 10 leading causes of death in children.

Nevaeh also had one big risk factor. At 7 years old, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease. Research published by the National Institutes of Health shows children with Type 1 diabetes are at a higher risk for stroke and mortality.

Struggling with how to care for a child with T1D, her mother took to social media, creating videos of their story on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.  After Nevaeh had her stroke, Cortney vlogged about her recovery and therapy as well. Her social channels under the @TheCortReport handle have collected hundreds of thousands of followers.

"It made us almost not feel as alone," Cortney explained of her social media posts. "Because other people’s kids had also had strokes and even when she had her brain surgeries, a lot of people had reached out, ‘like my kid had this when she was 11.’"

"Granted, age does play a factor in the risk of stroke, but stroke can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere, including kids," said Brad Donaldson of the Minnesota Stroke Association.

The association is holding its annual Strides for Stroke Walk this Saturday at three locations across Minnesota to raise awareness about stroke.

"Minnesota’s a very passionate state when it comes to stroke services," explained Donaldson. "We have some of the best professionals in the business, and this walk helps bring everybody together and show them that we’re all in this as a team."

Strides for Stroke walks are taking place at Long Lake Regional Park in New Brighton, along with locations in Duluth and St. Cloud. Teams and individuals can register at

"It is watching people move forward in their life," said Donaldson about the importance of Strides for Stroke for survivors and their caregivers. "Watching the power of the human spirit come forward in things that many of us take for granted is nothing short of amazing and humbling."

As for Nevaeh, her progress has also been amazing. She finished her therapy program just six months after her stroke, and she’s now back to most of the activities she loves best.

"I’m doing dance, and doing gym and school and all the activities," she said.

And most of all, she’s back to taking long walks with her dog Piper.

"It’s hard, but eventually you get through it," said Nevaeh of her stroke journey. "You start getting your strength back, and then you feel so much better after, and you’ll be yourself again."