Written by Jeff Meyer on 20 Jan 2016
In one of many heart-warming stories emanating from the lives of cerebral palsy patients, the coordination between Dream on 3, Molly’s Kids, and a very gracious NFL linebacker created a truly unbelievable night of dreams for one particular twenty-one (21) year old woman.
Jessica Hayes, who has formerly been recognized as one of Molly’s Kids in the Charlotte, North Carolina area, had mentioned that for her birthday, her biggest wish was to give hug to her favorite sports star, who as it turns out, is a hometown hero, Carolina Panthers linebacker, Luke Kuechly. While Jessica prepped for her upcoming party, including full makeup and hair for the occasion, Hayes remained unaware that she previously uttered and likely forgotten birthday was actually about to come true, as Kuechly approached with flowers to greet the young woman and request to be her escort to the party for the evening.
Garnering significant respect and inspiration from Jessica, the girls own mother was the keystone in beginning the process of arranging this surprise celebrity date with an especially ardent fan rarely allowing herself to by stymied by her physical disabilities. When asked what her birthday wish for her 21st birthday, of course, one of important note American culture, Jessica states that she only wanted to meet her favorite athlete, then enrapture him with her locally-famous hugs, as she describes their frequency.
The Rigors of the NFL and the Challenges of Cerebral Palsy Gave Both Hayes and Kuechly Plenty to Discuss
While a young linebacker in the league, Kuechly is no stranger to injuries, and sustained discomfort, however, as he admitted himself, the degree of Jessica’s struggles medically and physically is truly difficult to fathom. Moreover, as all the celebrants at the special birthday occasion noted, Jessica’s shining personality and her well-known hugs apparently inspire both other students and educators to adhere to higher standards within themselves based Jessica’s fearless example and infectious joy de vie.
Specifically, in addition to cerebral palsy whose symptomology only progressively worsens as patients age, Jessica also faced a young adult life battling autism, cortical visual impairment, and finally, a presented case of hydrocephalus, with lingering fluid remaining present on the brain in a medically inadvisable manner, in most contexts. However, the case-specific extent of each cerebral palsy patient’s care needs and the extent of their impairments will widely vary from patient to patient. In Jessica’s case, Hayes as an adult requires residing with her supportive family, while also relying on mobility aids to move around swiftly without missing any moment of an evening of this magnitude.
The party itself featured modifications allowing the otherwise wheelchair bound Jessica to dance amongst her fellow partygoers, as well with her NFL celebrity star escort as well. However, ironically, early conversations between Molly’s Kids staff and the Dream on 3 organization left the relatively young Kuechly unsure, offering arguably more famous teammates as a larger crowd-pleasing draw. When assured that it was himself that was desired, and most certainly not as a disappointing alternative guest, Kuechly eagerly embraced his role, including to remember to purchase a bouquet for the lady before picking her up for the evening.
Upon meeting for the first time, parents in the room appeared most emotional, while the two youngsters proceeded off to the dance, which included serenades of happy birthday, dancing, autographs, pictures, and ultimately, as Kuechly had to concede, a truly memorable and fun night for himself as much as Jessica and her fellow partygoers.