It was late November 2011 and 7-year-old Jackson was sitting in the back of his elementary school classroom, finishing a letter to Santa Claus. As he thought about his wishlist, he couldn’t remember how to spell a word and wanted to make sure everything was perfect. He raised his hand to ask the teacher for help, but when she called on him, the words that came from his mouth were garbled and didn’t make sense.
He blinked confusedly a few times, a sense of fear slowly taking over his body. Jackson began to cry, standing from his desk and stumbling as he tried to walk to the front of the room where his teacher stood waiting. The details of what happened next are foggy, a combination of the medical trauma he was experiencing and memories that are simply hard to recall so many years later.
Eventually, a rushed trip to the emergency room and follow-up tests revealed the unthinkable. Jackson, a second-grader, had experienced a stroke.