Full of energy, spunk and smarts, Katie Verdecchia, 3, continues to amaze with each step she takes.
Just one year ago, the toddler from Vancouver underwent a special procedure to remove half of her brain to stop constant seizures and ultimately save her life.
"We have a lot to be thankful for," said Maryalicia Verdecchia, Katie's mother. "A year ago, we just didn't know."
The Verdecchia family spent last Thanksgiving week at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles where Dr. Gary Mathern, a renowned neurosurgeon, performed a rare surgery called a hemispherectomy.
Specialists said removing part of Katie's brain was their best shot at stopping the seizures which were affecting Katie's development. Since the surgery, she's been seizure free.
"We don't have to worry every second, is she going to have a seizure, is she going to fall down," said Brian Verdecchia, Katie's father.
Katie can now run and climb. She impresses her parents with daily progress.
"There are little strides which happen every day," said Brian Verdecchia.
"You appreciate everything," said Maryalicia Verdecchia. "You don't take anything for granted."
Katie, who's become a wiz on her iPad, continues to learn new skills and work with local physical, speech and communication therapists.
"She's not typical. She'll never be typical, but she is so much more of a toddler than she was a year ago," said Maryalicia Verdecchia. "She looks and laughs and engages us. That's a wonderful thing - we feel very, very lucky."
On this Thanksgiving, they're especially grateful for a seizure-free year, with no medication and hospital trips.
"Sometimes when you take a chance, a leap of faith, it can turn out well," said Maryalicia Verdecchia. "A year ago, we were desperate for anything that could save our daughter. Here we are a year later, and we are in a better place!"
Tuesday, May 21 2013 1:03 PM EDT2013-05-21 17:03:10 GMT
Beaverton police said one man was shot at a condo near Progress Ridge early Tuesday morning. Just before 1 a.m., police received calls about gunfire at the condo in the 15000 block of southwest SparrowMore >
Reports of gunfire led Beaverton police to respond to a condo in the Progress Ridge area early this morning. More >
Citing a lack of leads, a police agency said Monday that it is closing the active investigation of the disappearance of Susan Powell, a Utah mother whose now-dead husband was a prime suspectMore >
The lawyer for the family of missing Utah woman Susan Powell said Tuesday that even as local police close the active part of their investigation into her disappearance, federal authorities continue to review the case - a...More >
Tuesday, May 21 2013 11:27 AM EDT2013-05-21 15:27:32 GMT
A local horse is safe after crews pulled it out of a swimming pool in Corbett Monday morning.It happened at a home on Southeast Henkle road.Firefighters and an animal rescue crew went to the home.TheyMore >
A local horse is safe after crews pulled it out of a swimming pool in Corbett Monday morning.More >
Monday, May 20 2013 10:01 PM EDT2013-05-21 02:01:22 GMT
Sherwood police are trying to track down the person who left a hidden camera inside a bathroom at Starbucks. The hidden camera was discovered May 1. The Sherwood Police Department has been working closelyMore >
Sherwood police are trying to track down the person who left a hidden camera inside a bathroom at Starbucks.More >
Friday, May 17 2013 7:16 PM EDT2013-05-17 23:16:53 GMT
One person has died in a crash near Harrisonville, MO, Thursday evening. The crash happened on Missouri Highway 7 and Walker Road. It involved a car and a tractor-trailer. Harrisonville is in Cass County.More >
Savannah Nash celebrated her 16th birthday last week. She died Thursday when her car slammed into a semi while she was texting during her first time driving by herself.More >
Tuesday, May 21 2013 10:45 AM EDT2013-05-21 14:45:19 GMT
Police in Northwest Portland are investigating an armed robbery. Officers say a man with a gun approached the valet for Café Mingo, a restaurant on NW 21st Avenue, just after 7 p.m. Monday. The valetMore >
Police in Portland are looking for a man who robbed a valet at gunpoint.More >
Tuesday, May 21 2013 1:01 PM EDT2013-05-21 17:01:29 GMT
Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant is pledging $1 million for tornado relief through his family foundation. The American Red Cross announced Tuesday that the gift from The Durant Family FoundationMore >
Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant is pledging $1 million for tornado relief through his family foundation.More >