Late one night in November 1996, the Lord’s Prayer got Jay Davis
through. It was around midnight that evening that the truck he
was riding in collided with two deer, flipped off the road,
smashed into a tree and came to a rest upside down, pinning Jay
and a friend inside. Shortly after dawn, a pair of hunters
discovered the two and called paramedics.
“I held on by saying the Lord’s Prayer until help arrived,” said Jay. It was two weeks before he was lucid enough to comprehend his condition, and the news about his injuries was not encouraging. He had fractured his third, fourth, fifth and sixth vertebrae and would not walk again.
Hospitalized for three months, he had surgery to fuse his neck. At a Birmingham rehabilitation center, his father and therapists pushed him to keep working to recover, to stay positive. But no one was tougher on him than he was on himself.
“I was determined not to complain, to just keep on pushing,” said Jay. The accident changed not only Jay’s lifestyle, but also how he would make his living. The one-time golf pro now had to consider other options, and the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS) was there to help him get his life back in order.
“VRS (Vocational Rehabilitation Service)and SAIL (State of Alabama Independent Living Service) have made a huge difference,” he said. When Jay returned home, SAIL furnished attendant care, medications, medical supplies, and specialized equipment, including a shower chair. Meanwhile, VRS Counselor Amber McLain provided employment assistance, helping him draft a resume to send to Sylacauga businesses. Soon thereafter, Glenn Raley, owner of a local automobile dealership, called and asked Jay to interview for a receptionist position. “I had no idea Jay had a disability,” said Raley. “I was shocked to see him in a wheelchair.”
Jay was not discouraged. “Mr. Raley, being a car man, I didn’t think wheels would bother you,” he said.
Jay got the job.
He’s been a positive addition to the business, Raley said.
“Not only is Jay an outstanding employee, he’s also an inspiration in the showroom,” he said. “No one can have a bad attitude around Jay.” That trademark positive attitude has him looking to the future, possibly as a motivational speaker for others who face overwhelming odds.
“I would tell them what I went through and the lessons I learned,” he said. “And no matter what happens to you, it’s like my Dad says, ‘Don’t give up, the reward is too great.’ ’’