Jessica Hayward’s summer has been one of emotional extremes.
The 27-year-old with spinal muscular atrophy went from mobile to bedbound and then back to mobile thanks to the kindness of strangers.
“I have a calmness and a serenity about me that I did not have before,” she said. “And I have a sense that I can overcome more with the help of the community.”
Back on May 29, Daily News readers were introduced to Hayward after her electric wheelchair broke.
She was unable to cover the cost its replacement or repair on her own. Her disease had robbed her of the muscles necessary to operate a manual wheelchair like she did in her teens.
Countless people stepped up to help her by the next morning and a few families even offered electric wheelchairs from relatives who had passed on.
Unfortunately, despite what seemed to be early success, none of the chairs met her needs and Hayward continued to spend most of her time immobile at Grand Boulevard Health and Rehabilitation Center.
Tuesday, after months of waiting, her electric wheelchair was finally fixed thanks to money donated from people across the community and coordination from volunteers at Destiny Worship Center.
Hayward gets teary-eyed when she thinks about it all.
Life has been difficult since her mother, and primary caretaker, passed away about three years ago. And she knows her disease will eventually rob her of the freedom the electric wheelchair provides, but for now that’s not Hayward’s focus.
Thursday morning, only days after regaining her freedom, she wasn’t afraid to talk about the future.
She’s going to go back to school and this time she’s set her sights squarely on a bachelor’s in psychology.
In the meantime, she’ll pass on the kindness she’s experienced and help out her fellow residents whenever she can.
“She’s gone, but I’m not alone,” Hayward said of her mother. “She’s working her magic for me.”