High school cheerleader fights to recover from debilitating stroke

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OLATHE, Kan. -- After suffering a stroke, 16-year-old Blake Ephraim remains in the intensive care unit at the University of Kansas Hospital where she is fighting for a complete recovery.

"When we got to the ER they were asking her things. There's a stroke test where they hold up five words for a patient to read and she wasn't getting anything right," Lisa Wilcox, mother said. "It was really just garble coming out."

The resilient teenager went from being at the top of her game cheering for Olathe South High School to having her loved ones cheer her on.

Ephraim suffered a stroke on Nov. 3, which left her with limited mobility and impaired speech. Her mother said she cannot feed herself or stand on her own, but doctors hope her feeding tube and a tube to drain fluids from her brain will be removed soon.

"My Blake is still there, she makes everybody laugh, she smiles," Wilcox said. "When she does get frustrated with trying to find the right words she goes 'Oh whatever,'"

Wilcox attributes her daughter's progress to her being athletically fit.

In the meantime, Ephraim's fellow cheerleaders and classmates at Olathe South are trying to raise money by selling head bands to help with expenses related to her care. Ephraim's employer, Jose Pepper's in Olathe, is donating a portion of sales on Tuesday Nov. 19 to help pay for her medical expenses.

She is expected to go to Nebraska for several weeks for rehabilitation, but her mother hopes she will be well enough to attend her cheerleading competition on December 7.

An account has been set up at Community America Bank to help pay for medical expenses in addition to the fundraiser schedule for Nov. 19 at Jose Pepper's in Olathe.

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6 comments

  • Amy

    Blake and family,
    My name is Amy Wooddell and I am a young stroke survivor of 3 and a half years. I was 24. I heard about your story just a few days after it happened. I know the journey you are going through and am praying for Blake’s healing and progress, as well as the family’s strength through this hard time. Please feel free to contact me at anytime. We started an organization called NOPW, http://www.nopw.org, to support survivors and raise awareness of stroke in young people. Our prays are with you all,
    Amy

  • Darla Neitzel

    My heart goes out to you as do my prayers. I know your daughter and you have a long road to travel and it won’t be easy. Having watched my father go through a major stroke and then several smaller ones I know how difficult this is. I will keep you and Blake in my prayers and I hope she fully recovers from this. I am so sorry that she is having to go through this and I hope God gives you and your daughter the strength you need to get through this.

  • Brouillette

    Hi, I am a former graduate of Olathe South (1996) and also was a Falcon cheerleader. My heart broke when I heard your story, Blake. My prayers are with you, and your family also, from one Falcon sister to another. Blue and gold runs deep and wide, as we loom forward to hearing about your progress.