Born with a cleft palate and other congenital disorders, Jayla’s health was always fragile. She couldn’t hear or speak and underwent frequent surgeries and painful medical procedures throughout her life. Despite her frailties, she graduated from the Indiana School for the Deaf and had a job at Goodwill.

Watch Jayla's video

Jayla loved to come to United Way supported Hawthorne Community Center. She was a third generation Hawthorne kid. Her grandmother, father, uncles, mother, aunts and counsins had all participated in many different Hawthorne activities over the past 50 years. Her father is a fixture with Hawthorne’s dance program, making costumes, building sets and teaching classes.

Even though Jayla couldn’t hear the music, she loved to dance. She performed in Hawthorne’s 2014 Spring talent recital and remained active in the dance program until she went into the hospital in December for a minor procedure. No one dreamed she would never come home because she had beaten the odds so many times before. Sadly, Jayla passed away at age 24.

The key is that Jayla never thought of herself as different and at Hawthorne she was always treated just like everyone else. Jayla loved people and even when she was in pain or recovering from yet another surgery, she was always happy. She was a wonderful example of perseverance and the pure joy of living.

Hawthorne dedicated their 2015 Spring recital to the memory of Jayla. The accompanying video features highlights of her years in their dance program. We will all smile and remember her passion for life and love of dance. We know she is now where she can hear the music and sing along.

Watch Jayla's video below:


Note: United Way brings together compassionate people committed to improving lives in our community. We help Central Indiana residents achieve and maintain self-sufficiency by directing resources toward four key areas of community impact – Education, Income, Health and Basic Needs. Hawthorne Community Center is one of over 90 United Way funded agencies working to address one or more of these priorities.

Prior to 2004, Hawthorne was one of 14 neighborhood centers receiving United Way funds through a now closed umbrella agency. Since then, UWCI has directly invested over $4.5 million in support of their efforts to provide or facilitate services and programs that meet the economic, educational, financial, social, recreational and civic needs of residents of their westside service area. This funding includes a recent grant of $1 million for renovation and expansion of the Center using funds that have been donated expressly for agencies’ capital needs. The agency’s current Community Fund allocation is $243,672.