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Locals Host 5K to Benefit Pediatric Stroke Victims

The Sept. 24 race will raise awareness and funds for children like Johnny Schwan who suffered a stroke at a young age.

Johnny Schwan suffered a stroke before he was even born.

He had a stroke in utero, which affects one in 4,000 babies before their first birthday, according to the Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Association.

How they found out

When Johnny was three months old the Schwans noticed something was wrong.

Johnny continuously kept one hand clenched into a fist. That worried his mother Gina, who watched him use the other hand normally. Gina continued to watch him but things did not improve.

She took him to the doctor and that’s when the doctors delivered the news: Johnny's clenched fist was the result of a stroke he suffered in utero. 

“I didn’t want him to be held back by it,” Gina said.

That bit of news was devastating for the Scwans but it wouldn’t be the last.

The neurologists also discovered a large lesion in Johnny’s brain a few days later. After being devastated and upset by the news of the stroke, and how that could possibly hinder Johnny, this news paled in comparison.

After visiting four neurosurgeons, no one could tell the Schwans what exactly was wrong. But soon that wouldn’t matter.

Miraculously, a year later the lesion was gone, vanished and those same neurosurgeons still had no explanation.

“I cannot tell you the joy that brought us,” Gina said.

That miracle left the Schwans forever grateful and now they want to pay that good fortune forward.  

How the Schwans plan to help children like Johnny

On Sept. 24, one day before Johnny's second birthday, the family is holding the Glen Ellyn P.S.S. We Love You! 5K Run/Walk. The event will raise awareness and funds for children like Johnny who have suffered a stroke at a young age.  

“We want to help kids that don’t have great therapists,” explained Gina.

Johnny has been one of the lucky ones. He’s able to see a range of therapists on a constant basis, to help improve the function of his arm. At least once a week, Johnny visits his occupational therapist Sara Oravecz.

At first Oravecz said that Johnny barely had the use of his arm, but since it was caught early she has seen an improvement through repeated practice of climbing ladders, going down slides and engaging in all sorts of play.   

"Johnny is great at adapting his body to what he needs. He figures out ways to do things and is really accepting of challenges and tries really hard,” Oravecz said. “I expect really great things for Johnny."

But this isn’t always the case; not every child is able to get help right away like Johnny.

The Schwans are hoping the 5K event will become an annual race that will attract people to downtown Glen Ellyn, and will raise money and awareness for a cause that’s close to their hearts.

For more information on the race and pediatric strokes, visit this website.

Jamie Martin September 15, 2011 at 03:30 PM
Nice article Samantha! Early intervention is so important with many conditions. The state has a program called Early Intervention for children needing therapy who are 0-3 years old. You can find out more about EI at http://www.dhs.state.il.us/page.aspx?item=31889 The program is paid for by the state with families contributing depending on their family income allows.
Lisa Kelly September 15, 2011 at 03:50 PM
Child and Family connections of Dupage, PACT, info... www.pactinc.net/PACT%20CFC.htm -
kristin lynn September 15, 2011 at 09:19 PM
The same thing happened to me. Im an 18 year old single mom and I fell with my 3 month old baby took himm to the emergancy room and the fall was ok but they found on the left side of his brain he has fluid and damaged tissue. I cried so much i dont know what to do :( But i know im not the only one in this situation. I hope to god things with my little boy get better he is going to delaware for testing.
Samantha Liss September 15, 2011 at 09:34 PM
I'm so sorry to hear that, Kristin. I'll be thinking of your little one and sending happy thoughts your way!
Lisa Kelly September 16, 2011 at 12:55 AM
Kristin, i am so sorry!! Prayers are going out for you and your son! Please hang in there, i don't even know how you must be feeling, it must be so heartbreaking!! One thing i have learned is to try to keep a positive attitude though, although it sounds crazy during this time, it does help you get through the worst!! You will be in my prayers and PLEASE, contact me if there is anything at all i can do to help!! I mean that, even if you just need an "ear to fill", i am there!!!! ((Hugs))

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