Greenville resident discusses the importance of giving back


By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 11:57 am on Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Mike and Barb Hurst (center) pose with the whole Hurst family including Barb’s sister Jean Fordyce (left) whose all-terrain wheelchair was donated to 16-year-old Austin Jones of Mayville who has muscular dystrophy. — Courtesy photo

GREENVILLE — After the passing of a family member, a local family decided to donate medical equipment to a child in need to help make a difference in his life.

Greenville residents Barb and Mike Hurst learned of 16-year-old Austin Jones in Mayville who has muscular dystrophy. His family was raising money for an all-terrain wheelchair to help Jones have easier access to being outside and in the nature.

The Hurst family had just the gift to give him.

“God puts people out there to find,” Mike Hurst said.

Mike explained the family had an all-terrain wheelchair that was practically new and valued at about $34,000 from Barb’s sister Jean Fordyce, who died of polio and cancer.

“(The wheelchair) was only used for matter of hours,” Mike said. “We had to pay it forward.”

Mike described Austin Jones as being sweet and being very polite. Although the wheelchair is not the exact one the Jones family was raising money for, the teen is able to use it in the house and at school.

“It was he most wonderful thing,” said Austin’s father Jason Jones of the wheelchair donation. “Austin was able to enjoy the last month of his junior year of high school and able to attend his first weekend conference with the National Resources Commissions Youth Conservation Council.”

Jason Jones explained Austin’s old chair was completely dead and there is at least a month’s wait for the new outdoor one as the factory is about a month behind.

“Through this whole process, we have been amazed over and over again,” Jason Jones said. “While Austin hasn’t received his Trackchair yet, he received enough donations that made it possible.”

According to an Mlive.com article by Heather Jordan, the Jones family has since received an anonymous $10,000 donation for Austin to purchase an all-terrain wheelchair for the outdoors.

“His wheels are his legs, and they gave his mobility back,” Jason Jones said. “It is easy to think of it as just a wheelchair, but it is really so much more than that. Austin is a self-described redneck, proud to be a small town country boy and proud of the way people help each other. From Mayville to Greenville is full of great people like the Hurst.”

However, donations are not something new for the Jones family as the family has always thought it was important to give back.

Jason Jones said when Austin was a sophomore, he had came home asking for money he had been saving.

“I said sure and asked what for,” Jason Jones said. “He said a fourth grader from Millington has leukemia and that they were having a penny drive for him. Austin gave over $75, every penny he had, and didn’t think twice. He just does the right things, and he keeps doing them.”

Jason’s wife Stephanie also donated her kidney in October to a girl that was not expected to survive the flight from Flint to Ann Arbor.

“She fought hard and got well enough for the transplant to happen,” Jason Jones said. “She is doing better than she ever has.”

Mike Hurst said donations, such as these ones, are helpful because usually people who are going through a hard illness do not have the funds to get all the equipment they need.

“If you think, yes, I can help, then do it,” Mike said excitedly. “You got to stir it up sometimes.”

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