“When I find myself in trouble, Mother Mary comes to me.”- Mary Maloney

As young Mary laid in the hospital, she told her mother God spoke to her. He said,

God Told Me:

Mary, in order for Me to heal you, you must stay faithful and believe that I will. Do not forget I will heal you. Your faith will allow me to perform a miracle and heal you. Then you can tell everyone and they will know my work and turn to me.”

Sixteen-year-old Mary Maloney is an overachieving teenager. And she loves it.

On a typical week, Mary can be found bouncing from classical piano lessons, play practice, several advanced placement high school classes, driving lessons, and playing with her “Cava-Poo” dog­–a hybrid mix between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a poodle.

And between all that, Mary fits in driving lessons–with hand controls, and extensive physical therapy.


Because at age 13, Mary Maloney was doing what thousands of pre-teen girls do before school; jumping on her trampoline.

“I was 13,” explains Mary, explaining her injury was on August 30th of 2020. “I’d gotten a trampoline over the summer and I was in many sports like soccer, basketball, and track, and did some gymnastics, but I just self-taught myself (tumbling moves) on the trampoline.”

So, says Mary’s mom Pam Surano, a television reporter for the Pittsburgh local CBS affiliate KDKA-TV, she was used to her active daughter going outside before school to practice handsprings and backflips. 

Breakfast Calls

“I went out in the morning to jump on the trampoline and then got super hungry,” admits Mary.

“I went inside and got a snack. And then when I came back out, I went to jump and on the first jump, even though I’d been jumping earlier, my shoulder started to hurt,” she explains.

Mary says the pain was like pinching; she thought she had pulled a muscle. “I just kept jumping and did a back handspring, and I guess I slipped with my hands and fell on my upper back, right on my shoulders.”

Sudden Wobbly-ness

Mary said that didn’t hurt, but maybe she needed to sit down for a second. “So, I went inside and was so uncomfortable that the pain worsened progressively. I went to take a bath or a shower and then when I was trying to leave from there, it just kept getting harder to walk, like I was wobbly and kept hitting the wall and then it would get harder to lift my leg.”

Mary eventually sat down and lost all movement. 

Making the Hospital Rounds

Mary was first taken to UPMC Passavant, and then transferred to UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. After even more tests, Surano theorizes that the doctors searched for all of the usual things that would cause a spinal cord stroke, which is a blood clot or a narrowing of the arteries.

Surano continues,  “And so, the doctors could only assume that because of compression to the spinal cord, there was a lack of blood flow, and so that lack of blood flow they refer to as an infarction,” explains Surano.

And so, 13-year-old Mary had suffered a rare spinal cord stroke.

Let’s Get This Fixed!

And what was Mary thinking? “OK, so how will we get this thing fixed?” After all, she was a 13-year-old girl with big plans ahead.

After Mary finished rehab in Pittsburgh, she was fortunate to secure a spot at McGee Rehabilitation Hospital, associated with Jefferson Health in Philadelphia.

Pam Surano and Mary decided McGee would give her a fighting chance.

“Well, yes, it was crazy,” opines Surano, “Because (the rehab) wanted to discharge her and we had no answers, no plan of care. I mean she was absolutely like a little limp noodle at that point.”

Miracles Start Coming

“So that’s what I consider the first of many miracles,” says Surano, who is proud of her Catholic faith. “Because she had the stroke, but she never lost her use of her arms and hands.”

Mary felt blessed that her hands and arms were working. “When we went to Philly, they worked on core strength, different exercises, independent living, and an assisted treadmill.”

McGee had an exoskeleton, but at 13, Mary was too small to take advantage of this therapy.

And according to the reporter Surano, she fact-checked the information she was given, and Mary was the youngest patient accepted by McGee. The philanthropist had set the age at 14, but since Mary was close enough, she could “squeak in” with the permission of the philanthropist’s will.

Another Rehab, More Progress

Mary and her mom stayed at McGee from September through December 20th, and then flew to UofL Health – Frazier Rehabilitation Institute. They stayed at the Ronald McDonald House, courtesy of Kosair Charities Charities.

While there, Mary progressed to a spinal stimulator. They described it as feeling way more advanced than a TENS unit.

All through that first long year, Mary was a trouper.

“The thinking during the summer was I’m going to go and do like two test runs and two facilities and we would get leg braces,”

Mary continues, “My leg braces are working well,” she says. “It was good to get back up and do that as therapy. We were progressing very nicely.”

Now What?

But once Mary got off her whirlwind trips to increasingly better therapies, she admits, “Once we got home to Pittsburgh from Frazier, it was a little scary because we thought, what do we do now?”

But Pam Surano had a back-pocket plan. “We knew that the Ryan Shazier Fund had started and we had an early call with Ryan and that, you know, it was early.”

So they were piecing things together and didn’t know exactly what the future looked like. Just knew that they had a great commitment and they were excited to help people.

But Surano kept that in her back pocket, because they needed something now. Once again, they turned to the adult therapy side and found an amazing neuro therapist. Her name is Beth Stebbins.

More PT Angels

Stebbins is at a private clinic called PTN Physical Therapy Now!

“We were very blessed that Mary’s story was circulated a lot so people would reach out to us,” and Surano said PTN did.

“And, she said, “By the grace of God, Jon Kolb a former Steeler. He has a facility called Adventures in Training with a purpose. “

“He has a water treadmill,” says Mary, “and works with many wounded warriors and is amazing. And so he’s like this big, towering Steeler that we get in there and he is always pushing me. 

Surano interjects: “He’s a good person to be around,” she says “So it was good to go. We bounced from ATP, PTN, and a traditional gym in North Park.”

“RAW,” says Mary, “Yep, it’s called RAW, and that’s because they want to realize the athlete would Realize the Athlete Within. And two amazing ladies own that gym.”

The gym owners would set aside time for Mary on Saturdays, “And they’re all in it with you,” says Mary.

Dancing Girl!

“But…” Mary admits, “I haven’t been there in a while because I’m in our school musical, ‘Cinderella!’” 

Mary was in the ensemble, “But it was fun. It was nice to be on stage as a part of a cast in school with my friends!”

“The choreographers were like, ‘Hey, this could work. They taught me how to do different ways when I would spin they were very natural!” says Mary.

Surano says that the audience got as much out of watching Mary perform as she did performing.

“She plays piano, bounces forth with all these therapies, and learns how to drive. She’s learning to drive. She goes horseback riding. Yes, we’re here there, and everywhere, in the pool swimming, Yeah, at the normal gym time like not aside from those things are just everywhere. And she makes sure she’s a normal, 16- year-old teenager!”

Pam Surano and Mary Maloney’s Shalieve Wisdom

Give glory to your Faith, The family is devout Catholics, but Pam was unsure how to pray in this time of trouble. Mary was named after The Blessed Mother, “I was all over the place and very sad for Mary,” says Surano. “But you know, faith was always a part of it, a huge part of it. I didn’t understand how to tap into my faith then, so I just prayed.”

“They told us to hope for the best. But then I realized there was more than hope involved, that faith is the substance of things not seen,” she says.

Realize as time goes on that faith becomes a journey. We have grown so much more in our faith as we see Mary overcome obstacles, she was told she probably couldn’t make.

Believe. So, if you say if you believe, it’s very simple. What have you got to lose? Absolutely nothing. And everything to gain.

Video Shoots

Pam Surano, Mary’s mom was a local TV reporter for Pittsburgh’s CBS affiliate. As such, she was able to provide us with some videos highlighting Mary’s journey.




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