Josh Hodgson’s older sister, Kayla Cascaden, describes her younger brother as a jokester and a fun-loving little brother who, as an adult, is a very determined individual. “He wants to be successful at whatever activity he pursues.”
Whether at work or pursuing his woodworking hobby Josh has also found creative ways to complete tasks predominately with his left hand. This after suffering a stroke on June 23, 2005 at age 13.
“We were out cleaning the garage, he and his brother were out there and he just stopped responding. I was asking him questions on what we should throw and what we should keep and he just stopped responding,” Kori Hodgson, Josh’s mother, said.
Recalls Kayla, “I had just pulled into the driveway and I saw Josh, my other brother, Tom, and my mom in the garage. They were cleaning out the garage. And I could just instantly tell something was wrong.”
The family rushed Josh to the local hospital where it was determined he needed specialized treatment and flew him by helicopter to Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska, where he spent the next 10 days. An MRI revealed Josh had suffered a stroke.
“We were so in the dark not knowing a 13-year-old could have a stroke,” Kori said.
The young teenager who loved baseball, woodworking and vintage cars, was unable to move his right side, speak or understand what his parents or siblings were saying to him. He would need help remastering walking, talking and learning. When it came to time for rehabilitation, Madonna was the best choice for Josh.
“When we got to Madonna I just started crying. And Randy looked over and said, ‘This is it, isn’t it.’ And I just said ‘Yeah, this is it,’” Kori said.
Kori says the therapeutic learning center (TLC), Independence Square which housed a woodworking shop and car to practice relearning skills would help motivate Josh. Along with his great care team.
“The physical therapists, occupational therapists, they all worked very hard with him. He did things there like he went out on a golf outing, there’s just everything he did that because of his interests before they still continued through his rehab,” Randy Hodgson said, Josh’s father.
Josh continued with therapy at Madonna throughout his eighth grade year. That involved daily trips to Madonna every day for outpatient therapy. The long hours of hard work paid off. Josh graduated alongside his classmates at Blair High School in May 2010.
“The whole family his brother and sister made sacrifices and his mom and I made sacrifices but it’s well worth it because look where he’s at today. But by far the hardest-working person is Josh. He’s never given up and continues to work hard even today,” Randy said.
At 28, Josh continues to work hard at work and at play. He works full-time as a driver for Abe’s Trash Service and in his off-time, continues his passion of woodworking. He’s also inspired his sister to become an occupational therapist at Madonna.
“Josh was my inspiration after he had his stroke. Seeing him make his progress during therapy really made me decide and finalize that I wanted to be an occupational therapist to help other people the way the therapists helped him,” Kayla said.
“People at work ask questions about my hand or my limp. I tell them I had a stroke when I was 13. Yes, I know I had a stroke and it happened but I don’t dwell on it. I just go to work,” Josh said.