Faces of Kansas City: Former dancer helping others after stroke - KCTV5

Faces of Kansas City: Former dancer helping others after stroke changes her life

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A former dancer, whose life was completely changed after a stroke, has decided to dedicate her life to helping others.

In 2010 an up-and-coming dancer from Overland Park, KS, was on the top of the world. But sometimes the margin between complete happiness and utter despair can be razor thin.

Amy Wooddell enjoys helping people so much she's making a career out of it. She's taking classes at Kansas City Kansas Community College and working toward becoming a certified physical therapist - she loves it.

"I've been an optimistic person, I've always chosen to look at what I can do versus what I can't do," Wooddell said.

That she's even able to conduct a television interview, let alone practice physical therapy on a fellow student is incredible after everything Wooddell has gone through.

The beginning of 2010 for her was magical. Shortly after graduating from Texas Christian University, or TCU, with a degree in modern dance, wedding bells rang for Wooddell and her longtime boyfriend Johnny.

The couple was inseparable. But just a few months later, Wooddell began feeling strange one day. From that moment on, her life would change her forever.

"My original prognosis was that I wasn't going to live through the first night after my stroke and then, when I had the hemorrhage, they actually didn't think I would walk or talk and would go straight to assisted living, if I did end up living," she said.

Wooddell survived the stroke and the brain hemorrhage, then slipped into a coma. She survived that too and when she was finally stabilized, she was flown to Chicago, IL, for rehab.

All the while, her husband grabbed a camera and documented her difficult journey.

"So they actually removed part of my skull because of the swelling and I was on quite a bit of medication, I do remember there was some frustration and they would ask, 'where does it hurt?' and it's like all I can do is blink. How do you answer that question?" Wooddell said.

There were doubts she would ever walk again and her lifelong dream of working in the dancing profession was shattered.

"I taught dance since I was 15 and I've been dancing since I was 3. I really wanted to teach and I really wanted to choreograph," she said.

In rehab, the work was grueling. It took all the strength Wooddell had just to stand.

"I didn't know that I was going to walk again or brush my teeth by myself or go to the bathroom or brush my hair," she said.

Remarkably, with the help of her physical therapists, Wooddell made a miraculous recovery. And that's when she had an epiphany of sorts - why not inspire other stroke patients just like her physical therapists had done for her.

"It's just what I felt in my heart that I wanted to do and I knew that I could help people in the way I was helped," she said.

When Wooddell was in the hospital after her stroke, all she could think about was eating an orange popsicle. She created a website called National Orange Popsicle Week that is dedicated to helping young stroke survivors.

Click here for the website.

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