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Community rallies around Odessa-Montour student-athlete

ODESSA--On Jan. 5, Odessa-Montour high school student Keyonna Garrison didn't feel well. It got worse during gym class when she fell.
"I tape her ankles every day," said Basketball Coach Greg Gavich. "At first, I thought she must have hurt her ankle during gym class. I learned that it was more than that: she was sick to her stomach and was experiencing numbness and tingling."
Doctors say that Garrison actually suffered a stroke due to issues with her vertebral artery. According to a GoFundMe page established to help with medical costs, Garrison was initially treated at Guthrie Corning Hospital and was ultimately transferred to the ICU at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. During a five-day stay, Garrison underwent multiple tests and treatments.
According to the National Library of Medicine, 16-year-old Garrison's condition rarely causes a stroke in the general population but is one of the more common causes of stroke in patients younger than 45 years of age. The artery involved, according to the Cleveland Clinic, runs along the back of the neck and supplies the brain and spine with oxygen-rich blood. A dissection forms when there's a tear in one or more of its three tissue layers.
Prior to the start of the Friday night girls basketball game at Odessa, Garrison was recognized and celebrated by fellow players, family and fans. Garrison attended the game and sat with the team during the contest.
Garrison is expected to start physical therapy soon, which will help her regain her balance and coordination. An athlete, Garrison made the varsity basketball team as a sophomore and led the team in scoring and rebounding over the first seven games of the current season.
Gavich has been encouraged by the outpouring of support from the community as well as from the team's competitors.
"It has been phenomenal and heartwarming," said Gavich, who also coaches the golf teams, is the school's athletic manager and teaches global studies. "At the end of the day, we're just a big basketball community and we support each other."
The online fundraiser that had a goal of $3,000 ended up raising nearly $19,000. To access the GoFundMe page, visit

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