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November 6, 2013

Facing your own mind

Coahulla Creek lineman Hunter Reed is overcoming his narcolepsy


Accepting help

Another obstacle was the mood swings associated with being tired. Wendy referenced about Hunter being moody, and even getting into an argument with his friend, Tyler Warnix. Hunter repeated a line saying his friends don’t know what is going on, what he is dealing with, and shouldn’t try to encourage him thinking they know what he is going through.

Moving beyond that phase had a lot to do with Jerry Bruce Hennon.

During the spring semester of Hunter’s junior year, the Coahulla Creek football team went to Miracle Field of Whitfield County for its inaugural season. At the Miracle Field, children and adults with a physical or mental disability play baseball on a synthetic rubber field to ensure the safety of all participants.

Jerry Bruce, now 7, was one of the players, and he was paired with Tyler. Jerry Bruce’s mother, Lisa Hennon, said her son has hypoplastic left-heart syndrome, which means he has half a heart. During the first of multiple open-heart surgeries as an infant, Jerry Bruce suffered strokes and the left side of his body doesn’t properly function, requiring a wheelchair and walker at times.

On the field, Jerry Bruce uses a walker.

“He thinks he can do anything,” Lisa said of her now second-grade child, “and now is just noticing he is slightly different.”

Hunter’s job — as is for anyone who volunteers on the field — is to help Jerry Bruce field, run the bases and bat.

At first, Jerry Bruce didn’t want any help.

“He was rejecting me,” Hunter said. “I thought, ‘What can I do to help this kid out?’

But as time went on, Hunter found the magic words. He told Jerry Bruce he isn’t interested in being his buddy. He wanted Jerry Bruce to be his friend — he wanted Jerry Bruce’s acceptance.

“Later on, by the middle of the game, he was holding my hand,” Hunter said. “I was like that. I didn’t want anyone trying to help me. Now I’m more accepting of people’s help. Jerry Bruce had a lot to do with that.”

So much so that when Coahulla Creek held senior night for its football team two weeks ago against Ringgold, Hunter had a special request. He wanted Jerry Bruce to accompany him onto the field.

“It didn’t realize what an impact Jerry had on Hunter until his mom called and asked for Jerry Bruce to escort him on senior night,” Lisa said. “It didn’t really hit home until I saw him walk out with Hunter and his family on the field and it announced Hunter’s family and then said ‘his special friend, Jerry Bruce.’

“That made me tear up.”

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