LESLIE HOOTON often jokes that some people have a stroke of luck. “I had one at birth,” the 61-year-old Alabama native says with a laugh.
She’s not kidding. Her disability was a mystery to her until age 50 when her doctor diagnosed it as complications from a perinatal stroke, the term for a stroke that attacks children within the first seven days after birth. It left her right side atrophied; she has very little feeling in her arm and leg. She can walk but doesn’t have the strength to keep a flip-flop on her foot or ride a bike. “I didn’t want to be ‘poor little Leslie,’” she says in a thick Southern drawl. “I wanted people to talk about what I could do, not what I couldn’t do. If there is a heaven, I’ll wear Jack Rogers flip-flops and ride a pink bike with a bell to announce I made it into heaven.”
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