Jeffrey Wilson always greets fellow employees at United Way of Central Indiana with a smile and a warm hello as he walks by. This is something Jeffrey greatly appreciates, considering he was unable to walk as a child. Thanks to United Way, he connected to local services that changed his life. Here is Jeffrey’s story, shared in his own words.
On March 21, 1971, I was a three-month premature baby born with a deformity of two club feet, meaning both of my feet were totally backwards. In conjunction to that horrible news, I was misdiagnosed as being “mentally retarded”. Doctors informed my mother and grandmother that I would be deformed for the rest of my life and may not even live for long.
My mother saw various surgeons to possibly get help with my feet. They all told my mother the grim news: I would be deformed for the rest of my life. But my mother did not give up. She kept on praying and believing that a miracle would happen. As we all know, there is nothing like a mother’s love. At age two, I received surgery on my feet from a special surgeon who I call an angel. The surgery was successful! For the next two years, I had to wear braces on my legs and special shoes.
When I was four, my mother reached out to United Way of Central Indiana to find a program to assist in my rehabilitation. United Way connected me to the Easterseals Crossroads Rehabilitation Center Child Development Program. Thank God United Way of Central Indiana funded and still funds that program. After two years of hard work and commitment, I successfully completed the program at the age of six.
Thanks to Easterseals Crossroads, my basic and comprehension skills were a lot better. I received proper medical treatment and physical therapy which turned my deformity into mobility. I could finally participate in physical activities like basketball, track and other hobbies. God’s answers to my prayers and United Way made a big difference in my childhood. I am living proof of the power of Easterseals Crossroads program.
Due to the training I received from Easterseals Crossroads, I was prepared for kindergarten at Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS). I graduated from Emmerich Manual High School in 1990, and enrolled at Ivy Tech Community College. After two and half years of hard work, I graduated from Ivy Tech with an Associate’s Degree in Administrative Office Technology in 1993.
After graduating, my career counselor at Ivy Tech helped prepare me for the job search by reviewing my resume and performing mock interviews. I did not own a vehicle, so I wanted to work somewhere close to home that had access to the city bus transportation system. The first letter I received to come in for an interview was from United Way of Central Indiana. It’s amazing how things can come full circle!
As an Administrative Professional in the Fundraising Department, I feel so honored giving back to the community for receiving services as a child. Furthermore, as an Impact Ambassador, I am privileged to attend United Way meetings and events to share my personal testimonial. It was a blessing for me to be a recipient of United Way and then an honor to become one of its team members and supporters.
Despite my early complications, I was still a blessing. Thanks to God, my mother, grandmother, United Way of Central Indiana and supporters, I am now able to pass on my blessings.
Jeffrey’s mother never gave up looking for ways to help her son. Thanks to supporters just like you, United Way connected her with the resources Jeffrey needed to thrive. Discover more stories of determination, overcoming obstacles and finding success here.