Meet Leah Hansen, the 2020 New Jersey Children's Miracle Network Champion .

Superstar Softball Player with a fighting spirit

An outstanding third grade softball player known for her infectious smile and tenacity on the field, nine-year-old Leah was playing with her sister when she began to experience tingling in her fingers. Rushed to the emergency room, Leah remained in the hospital and was sedated for six days with no known prognosis. 

Her parents, Abby and Peter were terrified for their daughter and their family. It was a nightmare. Each night, Abby prayed, "Maybe when we wake up she'll be fine."

Finally there was a diagnosis: a spinal cord stroke. This is extremely rare. Only 2% of all strokes originate in the spinal cord and they are almost unheard of in young, healthy children.

Abby and her husband Peter knew about Children's Specialized Hospital from friends and family. They knew that Children's Specialized was the best place for Leah to be for the greatest chance of recovery. When she arrived at CSH, Leah had difficulty breathing on her own. She had some muscle control of her right leg and could wiggle her toes, but she was in extreme pain. It even hurt to be touched.

Over the next eight weeks, Leah received physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Pool Therapy was her favorite, and it was in the water that Leah took her first steps following her stroke. Abby credits the doctors and therapists at CSH for Leah's miraculous recovery. "Without the non-stop energy, smiles, and hard work of her therapists, Leah's story wouldn't be as successful as it is. We know we chose the right place for Leah."

Leah is doing well and is now on the road to recovery. She continues to receive outpatient therapy and is even back playing on the softball field.