Outstanding Survivor – Gracie Doran
"Pediatric stroke is one that is not often talked about and I’m glad that I can use the voice that was given back to me to raise awareness and educate about stroke,” Gracie Doran.
Ten-year-old Gracie Doran was surfing when she had a stroke caused by a brain stem bleed. Surgery saved her life, but she was in a coma for several days and woke up partially paralyzed. Then she began her recovery journey.
In inpatient rehabilitation, Gracie relearned how to eat, speak and walk, relying heavily on the discipline and determination she’d developed as a competitive dancer to help her persevere. After rehab, she continued with years of therapy and had three more brain surgeries. Though she still faces challenges, including loss of the use of her right hand and a speech impediment due to facial paralysis, Gracie doesn’t let anything stand in the way of her goals.
In the 10 years since her stroke, Gracie has dedicated herself to helping others and raising awareness as an American Heart Association volunteer and advocate. She speaks at Heart Balls, Go Red luncheons and Go Red STEM events, telling audiences, “I had a stroke, the stroke does not have me.”
She has been a panelist at the White House Health Care Summit and participated in the You’re the Cure Lobby Day on Capitol Hill. Gracie also started a dance company, the Rising Stars, for children with disabilities. They’ve been dancing for seven seasons and are an all-inclusive group, allowing siblings to participate as well.
Gracie is now in college working toward a master’s degree in social justice and leadership. She hopes to go to law school and pursue a career as an advocate for stroke and people with disabilities.