Benefit Concert and Poker Run to Help a Soldier in Need

08/15/17 By:  Addie Hayes Editor/Lead Writer Regional Music Journal


On Saturday, August 26th in Shawnee Oklahoma, a benefit concert and poker run will take place to raise funds for Naval Petty Officer Jake Hayes and his family.

Jake Hayes on the job before his illness.

In mid May of 2017, Naval Petty Officer Jake Hayes made a phone call to his mother, Stacey Michael, around 1:30 am Oklahoma time; he was stationed on the USS Lake Champlain in the Sea of Japan.  Hayes told his mother he was extremely sick, including a high fever and severe headache; two days later Michael received a phone call from her son’s commander who notified her that Hayes had taken a turn for the worse; he was in a coma, intubated and suffering from brain swelling; there was a strong likelihood he would not survive.

Michael immediately began preparing to travel to Japan to see her son, understanding she could be escorting his body back to Oklahoma for burial.  While making travel arrangements, she found out her son had been transported to Ajou University Hospital in Suwon, South Korea; the Navy made the necessary flight arrangements, however Michael had to make the trip alone while her husband and daughter made their own travel arrangements, arriving a few days later.

Jake Hayes with his mother Stacey Michael, her husband Todd Michael, Jake’s sister Loren Alkire, and his grandparents Don & Trisha Hayes

Once Michael arrived in South Korea, she discovered how bad the situation was for her son.  Doctors initially diagnosed Hayes with Japanese Encephalitis and began a treatment regimen, however, the hospital in Suwon was not properly equipped to handle his condition.  The Navy set up medical transportation to have Hayes and his mother sent to San Diego California for further treatment.

Upon arrival in San Diego, doctors determined Hayes was not suffering for Japanese Encephalitis, instead he was diagnosed with Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM), and his treatment plan was changed.  ADEM is an autoimmune condition which results in inflammation in the brain and spinal cord.  The body’s immune system mistakenly identifies its own healthy cells and tissues as foreign and attacks the healthy tissue.  This condition usually follows a viral or bacterial infection, however, it can also be caused by vaccinations.

Hayes was in a coma for two months; he developed several lesions on his brain and lay in a hospital bed close to death.  But that all changed one day in July, when he finally emerged from the coma.  Hayes was alive and awake, but the illness had ravaged his once healthy body.  Since regaining consciousness, he has suffered from pneumonia, battled Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureas (MRSA) and he has lost his motor skills, leaving him completely dependent on others to feed him, help him to dress and tend to his personal hygiene needs; he has also lost the ability to walk.

Jake Hayes with his sister Loren Alkire, brother Richard Alkire, cousins Evan Williams, Bailey Williams and Cassidy Williams.

Hayes is currently in a rehabilitation facility, working hard to retrain his body to perform the simplest of skills.  The twenty-five year old is an extraordinary young man who faced death and fought his way back.  He continues to fight every day as he learns to walk, feed himself, dress himself and perform other basic functions most people take for granted.  His struggle is far from over, and making matters worse is the strain on his family.

While Michael remains by her son’s side in California, she is facing the real possibility of losing her job in Oklahoma.  The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) only provides twelve weeks of leave for an individual to care for an ill family member.  Most of the time she has taken off has been without pay, leaving her husband to take care of the family needs on his salary alone.  Needless to say, Hayes’ recovery will take several months, and his family desperately needs financial assistance.

Jake Hayes receiving an award from the Navy while in the hospital after regaining consciousness.

In order to assist the family, Michael’s sister and Hayes’ aunt, Charity Thompson has organized a Concert and Poker Run on Saturday, August 26th, in Shawnee, Oklahoma.  Several local businesses have made donations and will be providing support to make the event a success.  Registration for the Poker Run begins at 10:00 am at Sehorn Yamaha in Shawnee and the ride spans 70 miles, ending at the Shawnee VFW.  During the evening, the concert will take place, with The Fullbrights from Tecumseh Oklahoma performing, followed by country artist and Oklahoma native Wade Hayes.  This benefit is especially important for Wade Hayes because Jake Hayes is his nephew.

The Hayes family is an extremely tight knit group and they are all working hard and praying for Jake Hayes’ full recover.

The event will also include prizes for those who ride in the poker run, as well as drawings and an auction.  There will be food that can be bought for a per plate donation.  This is a very important fundraiser to help one of our soldiers in need.  The Navy has not yet made a determination regarding Hayes’ remaining year of active duty; meanwhile, his mother is staying by her son’s side, as any mother would, and the expenses she has in California, as well as the expenses for her family who has remained in Oklahoma, is mounting daily.

The Poker Run and Concert is open to anyone who would like to attend.  In addition, there is a GoFundMe Account set up to raise funds for the family.  Below you will find links to the GoFundMe page and the event page on Facebook.

GoFundMe –

Facebook Event Page –


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