VALHALLA, N.Y. -- Here's an incredible story of recovery after a child suffered a stroke.
Her parents explained what helped their little girl recover from the traumatic brain injury.
Mae Cunningham's laughter and her smile lights up the room. Getting them back, though, took a lot of hard work and perseverance by the 9-year-old.
"Every day there is something new that she is doing that completely floors us," mother Keri Cunningham said.
On Oct, 2, 2022, Mae, of Pearl River, took to the field to play soccer.
"We noticed she was having trouble with her right leg," father Brendan Cunningham said. "Her right leg started to drag."
Mae's parents say saviors stood beside them on the sidelines that day.
"Off-duty police who knew exactly what to do. They helped us make the right decisions to get her to the hospital as fast as possible," Brendan Cunningham said.
"From then on, our lives changed," Keri Cunningham added.
Their daughter, only 8 then, suffered a rare stroke from which recovery can be tricky. Her carotid artery was pinched, cutting blood supply to the left side of her brain.
"We're still searching for reasons and causes as to why would that happen," Brendan Cunningham said.
What's crystal clear to them, though, is their daughter's powerful progress, a credit to her bright spirit and the staff at Blythedale Children's Hospital in Valhalla.
"From the second we met her, I said oh we're going to have a good," physical therapist Alex Cerrati said.
"She's just this little beacon of light. She's just this little beacon of light," occupation therapist Cheryl Cowart said.
They said when Mae first arrived she had little use of her right arm and hand, did not speak much, and could not walk. She lived at Blythedale with her parents for inpatient care from October through February.
"We came in here in a wheelchair and she walked out," Brendan Cunningham said.
Now, she visits the hospital five days per week and to attend the third grade at Mount Pleasant-Blythedale and to continue her therapy.
"The other day she looked at me and she said, 'Let's run,'" Cerrati said.
She even took the Penguin Plunge in early March. Friends and family wore blue to boast they plunged for Mae.
"She has been like this since she was a baby. You can't hold her down," Brendan Cunningham said.
And you can't help but smile when she does.
In addition to school work and therapy, Mae's parents shared that she getting back into sports and loves hanging out with her cousins.
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