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Finding Purpose Beyond Disability

Jeff Kummer was diagnosed with Ataxia Telangiectasia (AT), a rare neurological disease, when he was just 13 years old. This genetic disease affects balance, coordination and speech, but Jeff has defied the odds. While most who suffer from this disease do not live past their late teens, Jeff is now in his late twenties and expected to enjoy a long life.

When Jeff's family moved to Chicago, his mother, Kim Jehlik, began to seek an outlet for Jeff to connect with—a place or an opportunity that would fill the void in his life, provide social interaction and give him a purpose.

Kim opened her heart during a Bible study and shared her hopes to find such an opportunity for Jeff, and someone suggested that he might be able to volunteer at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital.

Jeff is now a beloved part of the hospital's volunteer team. He assists with a variety of tasks, including deliveries, pick-ups and other errands.

"I think that having Jeff here sensitizes all of us," says Sher Fox, Director of Volunteer Services for the hospital. "We need to see that sometimes we make the world more difficult than it needs to be for people with limitations."

"When Jeff was diagnosed with AT, it was incredibly difficult for me to face," shares Kim. "I was really looking for a cure and praying with that thought in mind. What I've realized since then is that my prayers have been answered, but God has answered them in His own way.

"Jeff has a full life. He has people like Sher Fox and the guys in the volunteer department that have made his days happy and full. I have learned not to pray with direction, but to trust that God does answer, but in His own way."