BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — The American Heart Association warns someone has a stroke every two seconds. That troubling statistic is more than a number to a Bentonville High School basketball player who is using his own scary experience to build awareness of the silent killer.
“I missed a couple of layups and then free throws, which is odd,” 16-year-old stroke survivor Demondra “Dra” Bishop said.
Dra, a Bentonville High School student, noticed something strange last May when he felt sluggish and out of sorts at an AAU basketaball tournament in Tulsa while playing two games back to back. His mother Angela Copeland also noticed a difference in Dra.
“Free throws have been Dra’s thing,” Copeland explained. “He doesn’t miss them. I can’t tell you the last time I’d seen him miss them.”
When they got home from the tournament Dra’s mom was worried to see he could not keep up with their conversation.
“His face started drooping, he couldn’t stand up, his speech was slurred,” Copeland remembered. “The common F.A.S.T. [warning sigs for stroke acronym] that the American Heart Association puts out, FAST signs, he had them all.”
Dra was suffering from a stroke and he was air lifted from Mercy Hospital in Rogers to Arkansas Children’s in Little Rock, all while Dra was faced with a terrifying possibility.
“Is this it and then like, I realized am I going to die,” Dra asked aloud.
That is a scary question for anyone to answer, especially considering stroke is the fifth-leading killer of people in the U.S. But, at just 16, Dra is now a stroke survivor.
During his recovery, he was told something some crushing news.
“I probably wouldn’t make it back on the court,” Dra said.
Despite what he was told, Dra is using the sport he loves as part of the recovery process with a little help from On Point Boot Camp Director Luke Hammond who works as Dra’s personal trainer.
“What we’re trying to do is not only make his work again, but make his heart and his head work again,” Hammond offered. “Like, he gets excited when he’s in there and that; that can only help him.”
As for Dra, he is doing exactly what he loves.
“Yeah, I’m ballin’,” Dra proudly shared.
According to the American Heart Association stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability. When it is not fatal it can be debilitating.
Everyone should be ready to act FAST if they suspect someone is suffering from a stroke. And the acronym F.A.S.T. can help.
It stands for the following:
Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms.
Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.”
Time to Call 9-1-1 – If someone shows any of these symptoms get to a hospital immediately. Also, check the time of when the first symptoms appeared.