We found out that Jenny was hearing impaired, when
she was four and a half years old. Several surgeries
and speech classes later, when she was seven,
we found out that Jenny had Juvenile
She could not put pressure on the heels of her
feet, so she walked on tiptoe, and when the
pain became unbearable, I carried her.
Jenny was fortunate, though, because she
did not suffer the deformities, often associated
All through grade school, and on into high
school, Jenny suffered, yet never complained.
She took her medicine, and I would often
wrap her feet in steaming towels, and hold
her until the pain eased. But, as soon as
she could withstand the pain, Jenny,
immediately, carried on, as though she
were pain free.
She wore a smile on her face, a song on
her lips, and a love and acceptance of others,
that was, simply, amazing. I don't remember
her ever voicing self-pity. She ran, when she
could run. She played when she could play,
and she danced when she could dance. And,
when she could do none of these things, she
took her medicine, and she waited until she could.
Jenny, a beautiful blonde, with warm brown
eyes, was never a cheerleader. She never
competed in a sport. She could not even
take part in a Gym Class, though she took
the same health class four years in a row,
just so she could pass with a substitute
credit each year. She joined the band.
She won a place in the Governor's School
for the Arts; yet, no one in the Charleston,
South Carolina School System knew what
to do with Jenny. The perimeters were,
simply, not in place to deal with a student,
who was both active and handicapped.
Jenny continued to have one surgery after
another on her ears, all through school.
Her hearing improved to 60%, and she
taught herself to read lips. She carried a
pillow to school, all through high school, and
once, when she suddenly experienced
crippling pain, her friends scooped her up,
and carried her from class to class.
She was totally mainstreamed, popular, and
funny, attending every football game, cheering
the team on, carrying her pillow everywhere she
went, so that she could cushion the pain, when
she sat down. Then came her senior year.
She would be considered for scholarships;
however school activities, especially sports,
could often mean the difference between
receiving an award or losing out.
So Jenny came to a decision; and in her quirky,
unorthodox manner, she began to bombard the
high school football coach. She begged. She
pleaded. She promised. She got her best friend
to sign up with her. Finally the coach gave in,
with the admonition, "If you miss ONE game,
you're out!" So, Jenny became Manager of the
Garrett High School Football Team.
She carried big buckets of water to her
teammates. She bandaged knees and
ankles before every game. She massaged
necks and backs. She gave pep talks. She
was continually at their beck and call, and it
turned out to be one of the best years for Garrett
High School Football Team, in its twenty-five
year history. Often Jenny could be seen
carrying a bucket of water in each hand, nearly
dragging them, along with her pillow tucked
under her arm.
When asked why he thought that the team
was winning all their games, even in the face
of injury, one linebacker explained, in his soft,
Charleston drawl, "Well, when you've been
knocked down, and you can't seem to move,
you look up and see Jenny Lewis, limping
across the field, dragging her buckets and
carrying her pillow. It makes anything the
rest of us may suffer seem pretty insignificant."
At the Senior Awards ceremony, Jenny received
a number of scholarships to College of Charleston.
Her favorite scholarship, however, was a small
one from the Charleston Women's Club. The
President of the Women's Club listed Jenny's
accomplishments, starting with her grades,
and ending with an excited, "...and the first girl
to letter in football, in Garrett High School history!!"