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Then - 2011
Now - 2018
June, 2018 - Jay stood effortlessly with no leg braces or walker for 5 minutes! Tight hip and leg muscles are now receiving  focused massage along with continuing therapy.

Look who's building his core at Next Steps!

GOAL: Friends and Family Have RAISED $100,000.00+!!!

These funds are used for Jay's continuing therapy, paying for medical supplies, and providing insurance for Sharon and for their son Tom, a 2018 college graduate.  (Sharon works 3 part-time jobs and is Jay’s only caregiver and driver to therapy.) They were recently (2019) able to purchase a much needed 2016 van outfitted for much easier access with a low ramp! Jay can now sit in the front passenger side while riding rather than behind the driver. What a blessing!


Son, Brother, Friend, Husband,

Dad, and Grandfather

On August 4, 2011, JAY IWEMA, a self-employed painter who was painting a home exterior, fell

11 feet from a ladder onto a concrete surface. His thought during the fall was "try not to spill any paint on the side of the house." He was concerned for his customer, the homeowner, not for his own safety. That is the kind of person Jay is. He is known for his honesty, integrity, generosity, and strong attention to doing neat, detailed, clean work. That day, Jay’s life and the lives of his wife, Sharon, and their family and friends changed drastically.


The fall resulted in surgeries to place 6 screws, 2 rods, and wire to reinforce a neck fracture and required a brace to keep everything supported. His spinal cord was swollen, a finger was broken, his pelvis was fractured in 2 places, both feet were fractured, and he needed a rod and 4 screws to put his broken T-12 bone in his spine back together. In the early months, he suffered from severe anemia and hundreds of blood clots in his legs which added 30 lbs. of fluid onto his 165 lb. frame.


And so began countless rounds of therapy over

5 years, with Jay’s wife Sharon learning to care for his Activities of Daily Living including catheterization, and then Jay himself becoming able to do many of those for himself, and so much more.


Their story is one of hard work, sleeplessness, infections, hospitalizations, and tests of faith. It is also a story of rejoicing over miracles and blessings from God:

A motorized wheelchair found cheap at a thrift store.

A donated van with lift to transport him in the chair.

Home remodeling for accessibility with a lift added on to the porch by Calvin Church members.

Cleaning donated lovingly by friends from church. 

Many people volunteered at 2 previous fundraisers which raised over $110,000.00 for family insurance, medical supplies, and therapy.

There have been celebrations, much prayer, and so very important – PROGRESS.


It may be slow but Jay's physical PROGRESS CONTINUES TO BE MADE. God continues to give Jay and Sharon and those who love them hope THAT HE WILL GET UP FROM THE CHAIR AND WALK. To read about the whole story, please see Sharon’s blogs on the "History 2011-2019" tab at the top of this page which directs you to Jay’s old website, It may make you cry but it will make you praise God with them!

It’s not just maintenance – it’s

“Quality of Life!”

                  THEN and NOW –



No feeling from the upper chest down.


Jay has feeling down to the knees.


Muscles are twitching in his knees!


He can now lift 12 lbs. of weight instead of

2 lbs. when he first started therapy. He is holding himself upright and walking increasing distances in shorter times with leg braces and a walker.

Jay is standing unaided using only leg braces for 30 seconds and has walked his furthest yet - 371 feet - with leg braces and a walker!! Core muscles are being strengthened to help him walk!


He is feeling tingling in his feet. Nerves are coming back to life!

Can sometimes lift right and left legs on command and weight bearing is slightly better with better balance.

He pulls his upper body forward to reach for things and doesn’t fall over in bed; he can put on his own shirt.



Left big toe cannot only wiggle, but his smaller toes can curl under. His left ankle can move upward and his muscles can hold it in position.


Sensory scores for muscles rate 5; previously they were from 0-2 from neck to armpit; armpits to thighs – 1; thighs to toes from 0-1. On impairment scale from A-E with A=complete spinal cord injury and E=normal, he is rated a C.


Muscle movement felt in one thigh


Cannot sit upright in bed unsupported without falling over. 


Is considered to be an incomplete paraplegic rather than a complete one.


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