CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Seven-year-old Luke Dunn's favorite superhero is Flash.
When his mom asked him what he wanted us to know about him, that's what he said. That his favorite superhero is Flash.
SHE wants us to know that today, May 1st, marks Pediatric Stroke Awareness Month. But HE wants us to know he's just a normal boy who loves magic powers.
What that says in little kid language is that no matter the uphill medical battles Luke has in daily life, they don't define him.
Luke and his parents and three younger sisters live in Mooresville. When he was born, he was presumed healthy until five hours after birth when he stopped breathing. He was flown to Catawba Valley Medical Center where he was resuscitated six times in his first 24-hours of life.
His family later found out he'd had a brain aneurysm. That stemmed from a massive stroke he had in utero in the last trimester. Many people think only adults have strokes. Not true. I looked it up: 1 in 2,800 kids have strokes from the womb up until adulthood.
A picture of Luke's brain scan shows how the entire right frontal lobe of his brain is dead.
"We were originally told he would be completely paralyzed on the left side," says mom Elisabeth. "So when he was only weeks old, I started stretching his limbs. Today, Luke is not paralyzed – he actually went across the monkey bars for the first time the other day! – but he still has issues from that stroke. His brain doesn't send growth signals like it should to his left side so he wears special shoes with heel lifts to walk. He also has ADHD and has hearing aides because the stroke wiped out the self-control and auditory parts of the brain."
His mom says he got bullied in kindergarten, but now in the first grade has a few good friends who stand up for him.
The great news is that Luke is happy and inquisitive. His mom says he's a walking encyclopedia when it comes to animals, he enjoys the outdoors, and he can "out-fish grown men!" He likes playing Minecraft (after his chores are done), singing in church and drawing. He also loves his dog Macie, and considers himself the protector of his little sisters.
Best of all… "Luke tells people about his stroke," Elisabeth said. "He tries to let people know it's okay to be different because we are who we are supposed to be."
So if you see purple this month, it's for Pediatric Stroke Awareness Month.
For kids like Luke. Now you know.
**Editor's note: This is about one of #MollysKids, children WBTV Anchor Molly Grantham follows closely on her Facebook page. It was first published there, which is why it's written in a personal way. For years Molly has followed hundreds of kids with uphill medical battles. Find this story and updates on all #MollysKids here.