OWOSSO — Dakota Vincent, the miracle kid who suffered a stroke Nov. 19 at Owosso High School and was released from the hospital a mere four days later, wants everyone to know he’s in great physical shape for the holidays.
The 18-year-old OHS senior, who has autism, and his family said they are grateful to the teachers and staff at the school, the ambulance and the crew at Memorial Healthcare for their quick actions.
“I can’t say thank you, because thank you isn’t enough,” Dakota’s father Jeremy Vincent said. “How can you thank thank somebody for saving your kid’s life?”
On Nov. 19, a day the Vincent family will never forget, Dakota returned to his classroom from a bathroom break when his teacher, Jeff Barter, noticed something wasn’t quite right about the young man. He was walking funny, and one side of his face was drooping.
The strangest thing was the teacher couldn’t get Dakota to smile, and the young man was always smiling. Paraprofessional Kim Venne took Dakota to the main office, and staff called 911.
Within seven minutes, Dakota was transported to Memorial. Within 26 minutes, he had received critical blood-thinning medication. Later, he was sent by ambulance to Saint Mary’s Hospital in Saginaw, where he stayed for four days before being sent home.
“I’m OK, I’m alive,” Dakota said. “I’m just really proud of myself for becoming a miracle.”
He returned to school to receive a warm welcome from fellow students and his teachers. Earlier this month, the Owosso Public Safety Department honored Barter and Venne for coming to Dakota’s aid with the Owosso Public Safety Department Award for Outstanding Services Rendered.
Unfortunately, Dakota’s severe health crisis was the latest in a run of bad luck in the Vincent family. Within the past year, his grandfather died and his stepmother, Wendy Vincent, was laid off from her factory job.
Not long ago before that, his father, a former stone mason who has been on disability for years, suffered a stroke that laid him up for months. More recently, his arm was injured in a run-in with a buck he shot but which didn’t die right away. Jeremy Vincent hunts deer for food for his family, to help make ends meet.
Jeremy’s stroke was caused by a blood-clotting disorder — the same kind of disorder doctors have concluded prompted Dakota’s stroke. The young man is now on blood thinners, and his condition will have to be watched carefully in the future.
“We’re making sure he takes his medications,” Jeremy Vincent said. “We’re scared to death of the blood disorder.”
Medicaid will pay for some of Dakota’s medical treatment, but not all. Alaina Davis, a friend of Dakota, has set up a GoFundMe account for anyone who would like to help at gofundme.com/f/xn5sq-dakotas-medical-bills.
Amy Cooper, a friend of Wendy Vincent, has helped the family when she can, including supplying them with Thanksgiving dinner.
“You hate it when your child gets sick like that,” Cooper said. “We helped them out then in the hope others will help them out now. I hope people will be kind enough to give them some light at the end of the tunnel.”
Dakota acknowledged people who might help: “Thank you for donating money to the GoFundMe account created by Alaina Davis.”
Already many people have helped with their caring, well wishes and gas gift cards so his parents could go to the hospital every day. Dakota’s school friends and teachers called and texted many, many times.
“My wife’s phone was burning up,” Jeremy Vincent said. “I couldn’t tell you how many calls we got. Wendy and I were in shock and awe that Dakota is loved by so many people.”
“Some of my friends visited me in the hospital, and a couple of teachers,” Dakota added.
Dakota said he felt about 85 percent better when he was released from Saint Mary’s and about 99 percent better today. Doctors said the quick administration of blood thinners and Dakota’s youth aided his speedy recovery.
His parents were so relieved their son survived the stroke, they purchased him an early Christmas gift: a red electric guitar and amplifier for playing classic rock, which Dakota loves. He also loves anything related to Star Wars.
Dakota is happy about the guitar, and happy about his recovery and all of the friends and teachers who have supported him.
“He’s got his smile back,” Jeremy Vincent said.