Posted 10 February 2006 - 08:31 PM
Another Hardship Hits Hewitt Family
By Dave Argabright
TROY, Ohio -- Something nagged at Jody Hewitt, giving her a powerful sense that something wasn't right. Maybe it was her maternal instincts, honed from 21 years of raising a child. Maybe it was her experience of dealing with a wide variety of people, both good and bad, during her husband Jack's long and storied driving career.
Or maybe it was the dark realization that even when things are terribly bad, they can always get worse.
The past few years haven't been kind to the Hewitt family. Jack Hewitt suffered devastating injuries at North Vernon, Ind., in July 2002 and as a result has limited use of his right arm and leg. Last July the Hewitts were dealt another tough one when their son, Cody, was critically injured in a motorcycle accident and lost his right arm.
Since the accident Jack and Jody Hewitt have worked to help Cody recover, and the kid has proven just as tough and determined as his old man. His attitude is positive, and he's on the verge of a final surgery to repair some lingering injuries, and then he'll focus on further rehabilitation.
In the chaotic days following Cody's crash, one of his good friends asked Jody if it would be okay to set up a trust fund for Cody's recovery. Jody gave her blessing, and race fans began sending donations.
Most of the donations were small: $1, $10, $25 and the like. It's fair to guess that many of the donors weren't rich people, just race fans who wanted to help. The amount of money in the trust fund approached $5,000. Almost every day, Cody's friend called and checked on him.
Earlier this winter the Hewitts spent some time in Florida. The cold Ohio winter doesn't agree much with Jack's old racing injuries, so a few weeks away was a welcome respite after several months of Cody being in and out of the hospital.
That's when Cody's friend stopped calling. Cody couldn't figure this out, so he tried calling to check on his buddy. But all he got was a recorded message and no returned calls.
When Jody returned from Florida she was feeling suspicious. So, she went to the bank to check on Cody's trust fund.
The money was gone.
At this writing, nobody has seen or heard from Cody's pal.
Something deep inside me -- and I suppose all of us -- wants to believe this is all a big misunderstanding. Maybe there are circumstances we don't know about. Maybe Cody's pal is going to arrive any day now, with the money and a good explanation.
Trying to get this down is tough. I don't know whether to cry or cuss. Maybe both.
In the meantime, Jody and Jack have learned a very difficult and bitter lesson, and Jody offers some sound advice.
"Whenever anyone gets into this kind of situation, make sure only the family has access to the money," she says. "Never in our imagination could we think this could happen, not with someone who has been a friend for so long.
"It makes me sick that race fans sent money to help Cody, and then to have this happenÉit just makes me sick."
In the meantime, Jody wants to get the word out: don't send any money to the old account. Because her name isn't on the old account, she isn't even authorized to close it out.
She has established a new trust fund, and this time only the Hewitt family has access to the money.
The Hewitts are facing a tough road over the next few months. Jack is working the phones, trying to find a racing-related job, something that would allow him to be close to the sport that literally has been his life. Jody has been off work for several months as she cared for her son, and she is just now getting back into the job market.
Cody also hopes to sort out a lot this year, and he is facing some new horizons. Even with his positive, upbeat attitude, he's facing some significant medical bills and rehabilitation fees on top of routine living expenses.
Jack Hewitt is proud, and he won't beg. That's not what this story is about. If somebody wants to help the family, fine. If not, that's fine, too, he says. He just smiles and maintains a positive attitude, because he's certain that somehow this is all going to work out just fine.
He won't say it, so I will. When will bad luck stop haunting the Hewitt family? They say every defeat hides a blessing. Well, if there is a blessing here, it's ###### well hidden. ###### well.
The new trust fund:
Cody Hewitt Recovery Fund
Fifth Third Bank
1851 W. Main St.
Troy, Ohio 45373