By Ainsley Trunkhill / Managing Editor-Content
When met with a traumatic accident, it is abnormal to use every sentence to speak of gratitude and thankfulness — but that’s exactly what Ava Jones does.
In July of last year, Ava Jones, a senior at Nickerson High School who has taken a couple classes with Hutchinson Community College, suffered serious injuries after she and her family were hit by a car driven by an impaired driver in Louisville while there for an AAU basketball tournament. Her mother, Amy Jones, experienced severe injuries as well. While her younger brother, Creek, escaped serious injuries, her father, Trey Jones, did not survive the accident.
Now, eight months later, mother and daughter take each day as it comes, hardships and successes, and practice an inspiring philosophy of gratitude. For them, each day serves as an opportunity to set and reach goals.
A once physically active family, Ava and her mom used to play tennis and golf together.
“If I remember right, the last tennis game we played I won,” Ava said, joking.
Their competitive spirit still manifests, though their goals look different now. Amy hopes to walk on her own again soon, and Ava hopes to run and lift weights again. Their goals serve to propel them forward while simultaneously remembering how far they have come. Where they once were in wheelchairs together, Amy is now back at work and Ava even scored a layup in a Nickerson basketball game against Halstead. Her brief moment on the court displayed her perseverant passion for a steadfast goal.
“My goal before, and still is, to play basketball at the highest level. That’s still my goal,” Ava said.
In the meantime, her victory lies not on the scoreboard, but the small wins inside the home. For the Jones’, taking out the trash represents success. The trivial moments present a new set of challenges for the family as they navigate this unique journey.
“Just carrying a cup of coffee . . . that’s hard,” Amy said.
Despite their hardships, experiencing life without their father, and a less-than-ideal way for Amy to witness her daughter’s senior year, Ava retains an optimistic attitude.
“The good days are all the time, bad or good. I’m just grateful we’re not paralyzed,” she said. “I can come back.”
Ava and her mother credit their success to the communities around them that have indefinitely supported them. Just within their hometown, Nickerson, they are met with the help of physical therapists, the staff and student body of Nickerson High School, Ava’s younger brother, and Amy’s mother, who all aid in their everyday lives.
“I’m grateful we have people like that in our corner getting us through these times,” Ava said. “I can’t imagine if this had happened and I wouldn’t have known them.”
While Nickerson and Reno County have rallied behind their cause, their support extends nationally to Louisville, the site of the accident, and Iowa, where Iowa University has honored Ava Jones’ scholarship to play basketball.
“It’s kind of overwhelming, and it’s overwhelming to think ‘How can we ever repay anyone for their generosity?’” Amy said. “It makes you think there’s a lot of positivity in the world.”
Each day, however, the Jones’ repay their supporters with inspiration. Ava has managed to convert adversity into motivation, and recognizes her newfound influence on the world around her.
“I’m not glad that it happened, but I can’t imagine what life would be like if it hadn’t happened,” she said. “I’m glad I can inspire people to push on.”
Their story and resulting mindset serves as an important reminder for anyone undergoing physical or mental challenges as they model gratitude and thankfulness. With setting goals and seeing accomplishments, Ava reminds people that “things do come to an end eventually.”
Staff writer Laci Sutton contributed to this story