It began with a somber mood and concluded with a celebration of progress and life.
Interspersed throughout was a stark reminder of the power of community and fellowship in the healing process.
More than 100 friends, family and community members and gathered inside the Austin High School gymnasium last Friday night for a prayer rally in honor of 15-year-old Jordyn Hawkins, a junior varsity football player for the school. Hawkins suffered a spinal cord injury while tackling on the night of Sept. 12, and has not be able to walk since.
“What we are doing today is casting a stone that creates ripples that create a major change,” said Pastor William Cumby with Fountain of Praise church in Missouri City. “Sometimes we feel we can’t do enough by ourselves, but together great things can happen. Tonight, we’re in the same boat together – supporting this family, our friend and this community. Although we go through circumstances, it’s not the rest of our life. Now is not forever, but we can make lasting memories today.”
Hawkins’ mother, Deandrea Wade, said she did not realize the severity of the injury until they arrived at a hospital and were told by doctors that he needed surgery. Hawkins remains hospitalized.
Wade said the Austin community sprang into action after Hawkins’ injury with an outpouring of support. As of
Sunday night, a GoFundMe account to help cover the family’s medical expenses had raised more than $26,000.
“We know that we’re loved here, and that’s one of the biggest pushers for Jordyn is that we have so many behind us,” Wade said.
At the prayer rally there was a speech and mayoral proclamation from Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who encountered the family at Memorial Hermann Hospital while visiting an Houston Police Department officer. U.S. Rep. Pete Olson and area pastors also spoke.
The most poignant moment might have come when Hawkins’ teammate, Luke Weaver, stepped to the mic.
“He was never just a teammate – he’s a brother and a friend,” Weaver said, fighting back tears. “From the beginning, I knew Jordyn was different, and that there was something special about him. I know him as a fighter, as someone who never gave up.
“Even after the injury, he’s still got a huge smile on his face – that alone proves how strong Jordyn really is. Through this whole process, Jordyn has asked only one thing from us – pray for his full recovery. And that’s exactly what we’re doing tonight.”
Wade told those gathered that Hawkins had regained some sensation in his legs and could move his left arm. She said she believes Hawkins will continue to make improvements and that the family’s faith is their roadmap for what’s ahead.
“It’s still kind of surreal, but it’s our new normal and we’ll adjust accordingly,” she said. “We’re believers, and we’re standing on faith and on the word of God. We believe that he’s healed, we’re just waiting for him to walk. He’s always been a fighter, and he’s a natural-born athlete so he knows what it’s like to work hard – that’s what he’s doing.”
Austin principal Rizvan Quadri said Hawkins is “family” to those at the school.
“We love Jordyn unconditionally,” Quadri said. “It doesn’t matter if we’ve only known him a short time or a long time – he’s one of ours. He will be walking back into this building.”