Jerri Hodge Laurel, MS 5,239 Votes
My name is Jerri Elizabeth Hodge. I’m 32yrs old from Laurel, MS and I am entering myself into this contest on behalf of my family who has worked endlessly to care for me and my little brother, 25yr old Robby Michael Hodge.
We were both born with a rare brittle bone disease called Osteogenesis Imperfecta, which causes bones to break extremely easily from birth. Over the years we’ve both suffered roughly 200 breaks each, my parents stopped counting at break 50 when I was only 2. At age 5 my neck broke from this disease, and though it was caught and treated it collapsed on top of itself at age 11 and nearly killed me. Because of this I now have a trach and ventilator, much like Christopher Reeves though thankfully I’m not paralyzed. My brother has suffered horrible scoliosis from this disease which can’t be operated on due to the frail state of our bones as well as painful surgery to straighten his legs which were born inverted.
Because of this our van plays a huge role in our lives. Because of our van we were both able to get to much needed doctor visits, including a drive to Chicago for a surgery to straighten Robby’s legs which would have otherwise been amputated. It has allowed us to attend school where we graduated with honors. Thanks to our van I also met/visit my husband of 7yrs Don Rodrigue in LA who suffers from Muscular Dystrophy and can’t travel on his own.
However the years have worn down our van. Just last November we tried to take a vacation to Tennessee only to discover our brake lines ruptured once we got there. This van is literally our lifeline to the world outside. It’s not just about vacations, without this van we can’t get to needed doctor appointments, and I can’t go see my husband. We can’t just “get a new one” either, as the severe financial penalties placed on us by Medicaid make it nearly impossible to save up money toward one.
I thank you for offering this opportunity, not just for the vans, but to offer a way to let people the world over share their stories and hopefully create change for us all. Thank you for your time.
In the picture left to right: me Jerri, father Dale and our yorkie Sadi, brother Robby and mom Darlene and cat Libby.