Fighting from day one: Living with Cerebral Palsy
January 25, 2019
You can find Jerod Hayes working in the E-wing of John A. Logan College from early afternoon to the dead of midnight. Hayes has worked as a custodian at the college for eight years, not many see him at work but he’s a familiar face around the campus.
Hayes recalls the day when he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that impairs muscle coordination. He said that the doctor put his mother’s hand on his arm where she felt his muscles moving involuntarily.
“I knew from the time I was in kindergarden that I was different than anyone else,” Hayes said. “However, I was taught by my parents that everybody was unique and my cerebral palsy was just a part of my uniqueness.”
Hayes had the option to transfer to Unity Christian School in Energy when his mother took a job there in 1988. His choice was set in stone when he was offered a spot on the school’s basketball team. “Playing basketball was a challenge that I wanted to meet,” Hayes said.
At his previous school, he was not allowed to play because his coaches were afraid he would get hurt. After Hayes graduated from Unity Christian, he would later go on to become the coach for the team. Staying active is an important task for Hayes in order to reduce pain caused by the disorder.
Despite adversities he’s faced, Hayes has a love of life that he shares with his wife, Amanda and his children, Ezekiel and Rachel.
“As my body has aged there are different issues that I face,” Hayes said. “Having a family, having a house, living with my wife – I know I just have to push myself. From day one, I’ve been a fighter.”