ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - One day after a 31-year-old wounded warrior mentioned he was struggling to enroll his daughters in a First Coast school district the community came together to help him and his wife.
Gunnery Sgt. John Hayes and his family are excited about a new home that's being built for them along Honey Branch Lane in St. Augustine.
It's all thanks to Homes For Our Troops and countless volunteers and donors. The house is a specially adapted home so that Hayes can get around easily in it.
On Dec. 28, 2010 Hayes was taking part in his 4th deployment during a routine mission when he stepped on an IED that was buried in the sand in Afghanistan. The force of the blast took his legs. But as he recovered he says he's always had one wish for his three daughters and that's stability.
"We're so incredibly thankful - my wife and I - and our kids they are so incredibly thankful to be able to not have to move again - not have to transfer again - not have to go to another school," Hayes said. "It's just finally trying to get settled. They know the push - the move - is worth the wait."
But Hayes who currently lives in Orange Park thought he wouldn't be able to enroll his daughters in the school district for this upcoming school year where their new home is being built. That's because the home isn't finished yet so they're not currently living in the district.
His daughters are ages, 11, 7 and 4.
Within 20 minutes of Hayes's concerns airing on First Coast News on Monday evening his phone started to ring but it was nothing like the calls that came flooding into WQIK 99.1.
Radio personality Toni Foxx says, "Anytime we put anything out to our listeners like that they respond wonderfully like that. I think Country listeners have the biggest hearts of any listeners. We figured if anyone was going have an answer it would be our listeners."
John Scott, also a radio personality at WQIK 99.1 says, "We asked what can we do and the listeners like crazy just called. I mean it was one after another - with an idea. 'You can do this - just call this person - here's how you can help' and it worked all the way to the top to the superintendent."
Foxx says, "Bev Slough, who is the Chair of the St. Johns County School Board, called us this morning and she was headed to a school board meeting and was going to bring it up. She said that John Hayes should contact Paul Abbatinozzi because what John needs is an out-of-zone waiver."
Foxx adds, "Then, we got a call from the office of Dr. Joyner, the Superintendent of St. Johns County schools. His assistant Vicky called and she wants John Hayes to contact their office. So, I believe the Superintendent is on the case and is going to make this happen."
First Coast News double checked and learned that Paul Abbatinozzi, the Director for School Services is helping the Hayes family. He says all the family needed to do was to apply for that out of zone hardship waiver. Abbatinozzi says, "We really feel good. Everything is moving forward."
Hayes was relieved at the help and says, "I think it was just a miscommunication with some of our relatives that were trying to help us with it all but it seems like everything is going smooth but plenty of people are coming to our rescue now."
Abbatinozzi says they didn't realize Hayes needed help because Hayes didn't call St. Johns County School District. He says they receive close to 1,500 applications for out of zone hardship waivers each year.
First Coast News