Monday, November 9, 2009

Jessi, this one's for you!

It was in mid-February of 2008 that I posted a piece here about the Tri-City Americans and their relationship with a young lady by the name of Jessi.
Jessi is a huge fan of the Americans who has Down Syndrome. She helped out with the three-star presentation following a game on Feb. 1, 2008, and got a real thrill when Tri-City F Taylor Procyshen gave her his stick.
Just three days later, Jessi had a massive pulmonary embolism and we just about lost her.
At that time, Dawn Johnson, Jessi’s teacher, told us that Jessi “also suffered a stroke and is now blind.”
Procyshen, Kruise Reddick and Jarrett Toll, three veterans, found the time to visit Jessi in hospital and help get her started on the road to recovery.
Well, the Americans were back with Jessi and others on Sunday at a Bowling with the Ams function played host to by the booster club.
And it was F Adam Hughesman who chose to take Jessi under his wing.
“Just had to let you know how great Adam was at the bowling,” Dawn wrote to Hughesman’s billets. “I'm sure you remember my special friend Jessi. . . . Anyway, Adam bowled with her and totally made her day.
“The other kids were all good and nice with her but Adam was exceptional, cheering her on after every turn. Jessi isn't known for big smiles, yet Adam was able to elicit several out of her.
“I'm sure I'm not telling you anything you don't already know but it sure was appreciated by her family and me.”
Upon hearing this, I quickly sent Dawn a note, asking about Jessi.
Dawn was quick to reply:
Thanks for your continued interest with Jessi and the "hockey boys" as she calls them. . . . these boys continue to amaze me.
Taylor Procyshen kept up a regular visiting schedule with Jessi right until he moved to New Brunswick. He still keeps in touch with her family by email. We haven't told Jessi he's not on the team anymore — we think she's patiently waiting for him to show up.
Jessi has graduated high school and works three days a week at a workshop shredding documents. The two heart attacks and the stroke she experienced have left her blind but she can see shadows and some strong contrasts.
She was fully paralyzed on her left side but with physical therapy and hard work, she has recovered most of her physical abilities. But her balance is still a little shaky. She was in a wheelchair but now she walks with a white cane — which she named Taylor, so he named his hockey stick Jessi.
She participates in Special Olympics bowling every Friday. She has a special bowling shirt and a bowling ball that is striped white and black, so she can follow its progression.
Sunday was our booster club "Bowling with the Ams" day.
When I arrived, Kruise Reddick and Jarrett Toll were speaking with Jessi and her family. I billet Cody Castro and asked him to come over and meet her and he spoke with her a little while.
For the bowling, a player is assigned with booster members and Tyler Schmidt was the first assigned to Jessi's lane. He was friendly and encouraging to her, which was appreciated.
Zach Yuen was next and he was also friendly and encouraging and sweet with Jessi.
Adam Hughesman was the third player and he was simply AMAZING with her!!! He cheered her every ball. Every time she was heading back after her turn was over, he would tell her her score from that frame, along with some praise or encouragement.
About her sixth or seventh frame she got a strike. He stood up and led the cheering section and had everyone around cheering with enthusiastic high fives all around.
It is so hard to catch Jessi smiling (I've tried many times) but her smile had been building with Adam's support and encouragement, and I caught her just all lit up. 
In the photo, she is high-fiving Adam. She knows exactly where he is even though she is blind.
Adam really made her day, as well as mine and her family's. Her mom Tracy, her step-dad Bill, and her sister Caylee were all there.
What a special guy he is . . . truly very special.

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