When Chanell Roberts was 12 years old, she suffered a stroke.
“I was sad. I was messed up. I was completely mad,” Roberts said.
An otherwise healthy Sacramento pre-teen, Roberts had just finished running in her P.E. class when the stroke hit. After initial treatment, she was brought to UC Davis Children’s Hospital.
“She needed more intensive therapy,” said Tomico Anderson, Roberts’ mother. “So they thought UC Davis Children’s Hospital would be the best place for her.”
The risk of stroke from birth through age 18 is nearly 11 per 100,000 children each year, according to the American Heart Association Stroke Council and the Council on Cardiovascular Disease in the Young.
For Roberts, the challenges ahead of her felt insurmountable. She wasn't sure that she would ever walk again, much less be able to run. Confined to a wheelchair, Roberts was initially reluctant to participate in therapy, until she met physical therapist Romy Villaluz.
“She was crying that day, I remember,” Villaluz said. “She said, ‘I can’t walk,’ and I said, ‘Yes, you can.’ So we got up in the hallway, she stood up and took her first steps.”
Two years later, Roberts is not only walking again, but dancing as well, performing religious praise dances in her church. And this Sunday she will run the 2.62-mile UC Davis Children's Hospital MaraFUNrun, which will take place near the State Capitol in downtown Sacramento.