Pay it 4ward recipient overcomes tragedy, dedicates life to helping others

Pay It 4ward

STILLWATER, Okla. (KFOR) – You can let your circumstances get you down, or you can use them to push you forward in life. You often don’t know the burden someone may be carrying.

“JoAnn is the most phenomenal person that you’ll ever meet. She is kind and just a bottle of joy, and the most adorable person and the kindest person,” Heidi Gilbert said. “She has spent many years volunteering at this hospital.”

And right now she’s inside the Stillwater Medical Center, writing thank you notes. She has no idea anyone is here about to say thank you to her.

“JoAnn lost two of her sons. Kyle several years ago. He was 18 years old and was killed in a rappelling accident, and then she lost her older son Kevin to a seizure disorder,” Heidi said.

Heidi is a nurser here, and she nominated JoAnn Seamans for Pay it 4ward, not because of the burden JoAnn carries, but because of how she carries it.

“Tragedy like this you can use it to define you in two different ways. You can let it swallow you up and just ruin you or you can use it to help other people,” Heidi said. “Helping people makes the pain a little bit better than just wallowing in it and letting it ruin you.”

JoAnn’s most recent mission is a program called Stop the Bleed, which works to get backpacks of emergency medical supplies in every school in Oklahoma. She hopes they never need it, but she knows sometimes tragedies can happen to the best of us. This is her way of helping carry them through it.

“Heidi, we were so touched by your story about JoAnn. She really embodies everything about Pay It 4ward, the way she took her circumstances and turned it into grace and love for others,” James Boggs of First Fidelity Bank said. “So on behalf of First Fidelity Bank, I’m so pleased to help you Pay it 4ward.”

“Thank you,” Heidi said.

We head upstairs, and if you listen closely, you can hear the kindness in JoAnn’s voice, and she looks just as sweet as she sounds.

“Isn’t she just the most adorable thing ever?” Heidi said.

And her asking “why” makes her even more adorable. So humble.

“Because I have the time. I’ve worked at the hospital and volunteered, and it’s very special to me,” JoAnn said. “I think you’ve got to have faith first [and] primary. And then just the opportunity to help someone else makes a better person out of me.”

Click here to donate to JoAnn’s emergency medical supplies program Stop the Bleed.

Pay it 4ward is sponsored by First Fidelity Bank.

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