Born and raised in Wichita, Kansas, Jennifer studied at Kansas State University & Wichita State (rival to the KU grads in her family) and became a paralegal with Pizza Hut, Inc. (founded in Wichita 1958) working on real estate/ re-franchising. Then, Pizza Hut decided to move it’s headquarters to Dallas, Tx. in 1998 and Jen jumped at the opportunity to experience new opportunities.
However, in early 2007, while working for a medical GPO, Jennifer entered the hospital with an infection. She spent 3 months in the hospital in a near comatose state, with a raging infection which very nearly took her life. This infection, called “sepsis” led to “multiple organ failure” and her body effectively began to shut down, one organ at a time, under the trauma of the infection. She underwent multiple surgeries, and was under the care of many doctors in multiple specialties in the ICU.
Despite their most valiant efforts, most did not expect her to survive. But the doctors at Medical City Dallas Hospital in Dallas, Texas kept working, doing all they could to save her life. And equally important her husband of 6 months, family and friends stood by her, supporting one another. Slowly, Jennifer began to get better. Thankfully, the doctors in the hospital caring for her were able to save her life but in doing so they were forced to amputate both her hands and both lower legs below the knee.
Jennifer left the hospital as one of a rare group – a quad-amputee – but with her spirit for life as vibrant as ever. However, what was really remarkable was yet to come. Jennifer’s spirit was not lost, despite her lengthy illness and the loss of four limbs. Jennifer was soon walking on prosthetics and within months was back at work at her previous employer as a part-time paralegal. She stayed for 9 months.
Then, true to her spirit, and having always been an active sportswoman, Jennifer immediately began to focus on how she could turn this into something that would help others. It was out of this drive to do something with what had happened that the P.L.A.Y. Foundation was born. P.L.A.Y. provides the ability to live a positive, healthy, active life by helping them get back into sports, music, arts, and physical activities.
She drives, types, cooks and has gotten back into life with all the spirit, humor and love of life that she always had. In 2011, Jennifer was chosen to be a Voice Columnist for theDallas Morning News. In 2012 she was named Dallas FOX4 Hometown Hero. She is currently a contributor to the Lifetime show The Conversation!!
In addition, she has begun working as a motivational speaker (she can be contacted to arrange speaking engagements).