COLLEGE STATION, Texas — When College Station High School student Kyler Lewis suffered a stroke at the age of 15, he was confused and frightened. Two years later, and this teen has turned into a warrior for survivors of strokes, urging health education to protect other kids.
Life hasn’t been the same for Kyler since April of 2020, when a malformation of veins and arteries (known as a brain arteriovenous malformation, or AVM) ruptured in his brain, causing a stroke. He can no longer dance – a skill he was passionate about. He’s received bouts of chemotherapy and suffered epileptic seizures. But he’s found a new passion in life because of his condition: helping others like him, both children and adults.
"I feel the need to talk to them and send them things because they’re going through really hard times," said Kyler. "Some of them can’t talk, some of them can’t walk, and it’s a very scary time. I have to be there to hold their hands."
Kyler regularly communicates with others living with the same brain malformation. Unfortunately, some of his new friends have passed away. But he finds special ways to honor their memory. And his family is passionate about turning a scary diagnosis into something meaningful.
“We were like, okay, let’s focus on what we do have control over," said Raylene Lewis, Kyler's mom. "Let’s focus on trying to find research for a cure, and trying to bring about awareness; the importance of people knowing that kids can have a stroke too.”
Kyler’s condition is treatable but can be dangerous on a case-by-case basis. The Lewises want parents to be able to catch an issue like this AVM before it results in hemorrhage.
“Any time a kid has a concussion, any time a kid has a lot of headaches, the thing to do is demand an MRI," Raylene said. "Have an MRI and get it checked out just so you know for sure that everything is okay.”
Kyler plans to attend Blinn College and then Texas A&M to become a pediatric nurse, dedicating his life to healing other children. These are just some of the reasons the American Stroke Association selected him as their pediatric hero of the year:
“It’s been very hard for me, and people have helped me to become strong," Kyler told KRHD. "So I wanted to return the favor for all the kids and adults who have done this for me.”