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GT Community: Jennifer, Scott, and Mary of Michigan

June 22, 2023

GT Community: Jennifer, Scott, and Mary of Michigan

We value making space for the people we serve to tell their own stories. This is the story of Jennifer, and her parents Scott and Mary, from Michigan. They started self-directing with GT in 2017 and used it until her passing on March 19, 2023. In this post, you can hear about their experience in their own words.

Meet Jennifer, Scott, and Mary

Scott and Mary were overjoyed when their daughter, Jennifer, was born. Being raised in northern Michigan means Jennifer was able to spend a lot of time outside. As a child, she loved to ride horses and be in nature. She was a talented equestrian in her teenage years, and planned to study veterinary medicine in college. Jennifer also had numerous friends in her social circle.

A framed photo in black and white of Jennifer from high school, before the accident.
A framed photo in black and white of Jennifer with a horse. She is smiling into the camera. It is before the accident.

Jennifer’s Accident

When Jennifer was eighteen, there was an accident and she nearly drowned. As a result, she had anoxic encephalopathy. This is a type of severe brain injury.

Jennifer was able to move her head to track people with her eyes. She could blink her eyes to say “yes” and “no.” She also had a computer that scanned her eye movements and interpreted them into words based on what is on the screen. But she could not move her body beyond turning her head. And her care needs meant that she wasn’t able to live on her own.

How Self-Direction Helped Jennifer

Jennifer lived in her parent’s home, rather than in a group home or other facility, because of self-direction. And, she was able to get the level of care she needed.

Scott and Mary were able to hire people they trusted to help Jennifer. This allowed them the freedom to spend more quality time with their daughter. They were able to go to the local barns to see horses, and Jennifer also loved to be read to. Some of their care providers would even sing to Jennifer.

She was able to live a life supported by loved ones and people who truly cared about her. Jennifer passed away at home on March 19, 2023, surrounded by her family.

Jennifer being wheeled through the backyard by her father, Scott. Her mother, Mary, follows closely behind. The sun is shining, but it's still chilly, so Jennifer is under a quilted blanket.

[Jennifer]’s care [was] so specific. I wish everybody’s care could be that specific.


Learn More About How GT Independence Can Help You

With self-direction, you have the right to live the life you choose—regardless of age or ability—in your own home or community. At GT Independence, our job is to help make self-direction easy.