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Stroke boy beats the odds

Reporter: Alex Carey
Date online: 06 March 2014

A FIVE-YEAR-OLD boy is back on his feet despite being told he might never walk again.

Just before his fourth birthday, Hollinwood youngster Riley Parrish began to struggle to walk and use his left side.

Doctors couldn’t confirm until six months after the October, 2012, event that Riley had suffered a stroke, which left him with limited use of his left arm and leg.

Riley’s mum Gemma (28) said: “We were absolutely devastated for him — but he was so brave and strong for a boy so young.”

Riley, a pupil at Corpus Christi RC primary school, Chadderton, pushed himself through physiotherapy and regained the use of the left side before brain surgery to repair the damage the stroke had caused, took it away again.

Doctors told the family it was likely Riley would never walk again — but the plucky youngster wasn’t prepared to give up without a fight.

Now, after five months of intensive physiotherapy, he can walk again for short distances.

Gemma said: “A lot of kids would not have responded the way Riley did. He was amazingly positive about pushing himself to walk again and he has really showed that if you work hard at something you will be rewarded.

“His love for sport has been a huge motivation for him. He just wants to get back to playing football and every other sport he loves.”

Gemma and husband Simon (28) have put work commitments aside to support their boy. Gemma gave up her bank job and Simon, a self-employed electrician, has turned down work to look after both Riley and his two-year-old brother Grady. Simon also gave up playing rugby to provide support for his son, but Riley, a big Manchester United fan, is now pushing his dad to get back on the pitch.

Gemma said: “We’ve all had to pull together. We go through exercises with Riley every day and it’s great to see him improving.”

Riley’s mother has praised Riley’s school for its help for her son. The school is holding a race night on March 21 to raise money to improve its facilities to better cater for the needs of Riley and other children with mobility issues.

Headteacher Chris Hanson said: “When we first found out about Riley’s condition we were devastated and decided we needed to make sure he had access to everything other pupils did.

“Our initial plan was to raise money to get him a stairlift — but he has done so well he doesn’t need one any more. To see him running around in PE again and even just walking up the stairs is inspirational.”


Fantastic. I just wish that I could give him a hug.


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