In her 12 short years on Earth, Nanaimo’s Hailey Jones made quite an impact on the community and its people.
In and out of hospital in her battle with cerebral palsy, Hailey died in the arms of her parents, Darryl and Patty Jones, April 3 at 10 p.m. in the pediatric ward at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.
Dealing with another bout of pneumonia, Hailey took a turn for the worse when her body didn’t respond to prescribed antibiotics.
“In the past they would give her some antibiotics and some chest physio and she’d start getting better in a couple of days,” said Darryl. “But this time she didn’t and the palliative doctor talked to us that she wasn’t going to make it without machines.
“You do everything you can for your child to make her comfortable and as much as possible, she lived a happy life. At the end we decided we needed to let her go and she passed in our arms.”
The family is holding a celebration of Hailey’s life Saturday (April 13) at 1 p.m. at the ET Family Church, 1300 Princess Royal Ave.
It’s a chance to honour all the good things and the people who connected with Hailey.
“She loved people and had an incredible effect on literally everyone who met her,” said pastor Dan Cousins, of the Genesis Christian Centre, who will be leading the memorial. “There will be hundreds who will be greatly moved by her absence in this world.”
Darryl said the community has always had a connection with his daughter.
“About nine years ago we discovered hyperbaric oxygen therapy where kids get high doses of oxygen in a pressurized environment,” he said. “It was costly and we didn’t know how we were going to do it for her, but it was amazing how the people of Nanaimo rallied around Hailey.”
The people came through and the therapy provided her a quality of life that included going to school.
“Before she was tormented by everyday life and seizures. She basically stayed in her room,” said Darryl.
“But she loved school. She just beamed coming off the school bus.”
Another gift from the community – an iPad from Rutherford Elementary School for its Life Skills program for children with special needs – also helped Hailey interact.
By hitting a switch with her head, she could activate the iPad which in turn would play music for her, read to her and prompt her with options for her to communicate.
“She was non-verbal many years, could only communicate through yes and no questions,” said Patty. “Lifting her eyes up or a smile would be her yes. Looking down was her no.
“But the introduction to technology transformed her life. The iPad technology just proved there was just so much inside her and how much potential she had.
“From that point on she was never fussy or irritable because she could finally communicate what she was experiencing.”
Cousins said Hailey had the ability to express herself with great joy and caused great joy in many people.
“I never saw her let the cerebral palsy get her down,” he said. “She had every odd against her and beat them all until she had an opportunity to go to heaven.”
A trust fund has set up at the Hammond Bay branch of Coastal Community Credit Union.
Anyone wishing to donate can ask for the Hailey Grace Jones memorial fund administered by the Genesis Christian Centre.
They can also donate at www.haileygracejones.com and go to the PayPal account.
And another memorial fund has been set up in Hailey’s name to benefit the Nanaimo Child Development Centre at 1135 Nelson St.