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Stanley's Journey: From Stroke Survivor to National Champion

There are many stories about athletes overcoming adversity in the sports world, but one sixth-grade student had a particularly remarkable journey this past year.

Thirteen-year-old Stanley Dinkins is a student at Flagship Charter Academy, which has outperformed the local district for nine years. For the past seven years, he has competed in track and field events ranging from sprints to the shot put.

This past summer Dinkins had the opportunity to compete in the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Junior Olympic Games, but it was an opportunity that almost didn’t happen.

Dinkins’ story is one of how perseverance, determination, and a strong support system helped him overcome a health emergency to get there.

In December he was getting ready to work out when he started feeling strange. “I got really dizzy and then I couldn't pick my left hand up,” revealed Dinkins.

He went to find his mom Tamika Dinkins, a paraprofessional at Flagship, and she knew they needed to quickly get to the hospital.

She says what they learned next was shocking – Dinkins had suffered a stroke. “His left side was affected. He was paralyzed on his complete left side. He was incoherent and his face had drooped down. It was terrifying, but through it all, I just kept telling him ‘You're going to be fine.’”

He said positive energy from his parents, siblings, and coaches played a big role in his recovery. “They encouraged me throughout it all, making sure I knew I could do everything I wanted to do even after the stroke.”

After three months of recovery and intense physical therapy to regain strength in his left side, Dinkins decided he was ready to get his life back on track. Just the thought of him running again made his mom and his coach a little apprehensive.

“His coach LaCema Womack was with us every step of the way through his rehab,” recalled Tamika Dinkins. “She was scared to train him. She said, ‘No, I'm not training you’ and he said, ‘I'm training.’”  

Coach Womack agreed to continue training him, and the rest is history. Seven months after suffering a stroke, Dinkins competed in the pentathlon at the AAU Junior Olympics in Iowa. It consisted of five events in one day; the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, long jump, shot put, and the 1,500-meter run. 

“Imagine five events with temperatures over 100 degrees and a really bad leg cramp,” said Tamika Dinkins. “I wanted to pull Stanley out of the race because I was scared. He looked at me and said, “I’ll be fine.” When he finished, I asked him ‘How do you feel?’ He said, ‘I knew I could do it.”

Dinkins did more than just finish the pentathlon; he took home first place with an impressive 2,600 points.
“It was harder this year, but I really like the high jump and hurdles, and I finally broke the five-minute mark in the 1,500 meters,” exclaimed Dinkins.

Beaming with pride, Coach Womack shared her thoughts on his national recognition. “‘Trey’ (as we call Stanley) is heroic in every sense of the word! I am happy to still have the pleasure of coaching him along his journey.”
Dinkins’ goals extend far beyond his recent national title. He plans to continue running throughout high school, with a goal of competing at the college level and ultimately representing the United States in the Olympics.
Stanley is currently running cross country and plans to play on the school’s basketball team.

Congratulations on your incredible journey, Stanley!

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About Flagship Charter Academy
Flagship Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Detroit, Michigan, serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes more than 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit
Visit Flagship Charter Academy's blog to read more stories like this.