Youth athlete returns to compete after stroke - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Youth athlete returns to compete after stroke

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by Dave Delgado

8-year-old Zachary Criss is a miracle child. Zach recently suffered a stroke and was hospitalized for three weeks, where he was diagnosed with having Henoch-Schonlein purpura. Some of the procedures that he went through were three CAT scans, a spinal tap, and an echo cardio graham, where he showed low brain waves and doctors feared that he might end up in a vegetative state.

Geoffrey Criss, Zach's father, told KUAM News, "He had swollen blood vessels, which caused the stroke.  And after the doctors had done his EEG he said that he had real slow brain waves and he shouldn't be functioning right now. At that point and time it has been a massive turnaround, he is out, he is functioning, and he got to do the race, and I'm just so proud of him."

After losing 7 pounds and feeling physically drained, Zach still had the mind and heart of a champion. During the whole time he was in bed all he talked about was how he needed to get back on his feet and do the Guam Gatorade Ko'ku Road Race, a run that he had been part of last year.  And he didn't want to let the guys down on the team. Zach has been running 5K's on island for the last two years and has competed along side PXC fighters Justin "The Shocker" Cruz, Micah Tobias and Jesse "Spiderman" Taitano in different relay team runs.

"It was fun walking with the guys, they helped me a lot," proclaimed Zach.  "When I was going up the hill and down the hill, they helped me. They went with me to the finish line and they helped me a lot I had a fun time."

The saying goes 'never give up and fight for what you believe in and love doing'.  But for some, it's easier said than done. People like the Gatorade Giants football coaching staffers, Cathy Sgro, Janet Calvo the players and teammates of Zach and the folks at Man'Aguaiya Fellowship, all their prayers were answered when Zack was able to get back to his competitive ways.  

Zach explained, "I did the race last year and I was sick but nothing, when I was sick I didn't want to stop running."  Zach says he wants to be able to play football with his team next year and one day represent Guam in the Olympics, doing the decathlon or compete in a triathlon.  He wanted to be part of the football team picture, and with the help of the organization, the photographer sessions were postponed twice so Zach could get in the shot.

The coaches got to visit giving him and signed a football because the players weren't allowed to visit. Zach and his family want to give glory to God for the drastic turn around and speedy recovery.  "I played football," he said enthusiastically.  "And I'm going to do it next year.

"I want to be out there on the field."

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