Adams made city brighter

Published 1:45 pm Saturday, August 29, 2009

There are people in Pelham that seem as constant and sturdy as our big, concrete high school on the hill.

Jennifer Adams has always been one of those people.

Our families met soon after we became residents on the same Pelham street. A very young Chris Adams knocked on our door one Saturday morning. As I opened the door, he grinned up at me and said, “Can Mr. Jerry come out to play?”

Remembering my husband as his basketball buddy from the afternoon before, Adams had come back for his playmate. Chris’ sister, Jennifer, was a few years younger. She was confined to a wheelchair by a disease whose name always seemed too big for this petite beauty.

In our neighborhood, Jennifer played much like the other kids. She and our daughter, Georgia, were in classes together throughout their elementary years. One day, Jennifer’s mom, Debbie, and I were talking when I noticed the two girls had begun to race—wheelchair against bicycle. I asked if we should make them stop, commenting that a bicycle vs. wheelchair race didn’t seem very politically correct.

“No, it’s probably not politically correct. Let’s leave them alone though. They look like they’re having fun,” Debbie said.

That’s the way Jennifer was raised. They were great advocates for their daughter when necessary, but they were also great parents who believed in letting their kids have fun.

Close calls with Jennifer’s health gave us several scares as she was growing up, but Jennifer’s fighting spirit always pulled her through.

Eventually Chris came to the high school and became quite a football player. Jennifer cheered her brother on from the top of the stadium ramp decked out in her Pelham cheer outfit. She was always excited to have her shaker and cheer for her brother.

In 2004, Jennifer entered high school. Jennifer’s mom had been working in the PHS office for some time by then, and having Jennifer at school was a daily treat. Whenever I saw Jennifer, she always asked, “Where’s Georgia?” Jennifer was probably plotting another race.

Jennifer graduated in 2008. She received her PHS diploma via wheelchair ramp, and received a standing ovation at graduation. 

On Monday, Aug. 24, Jennifer Adams passed away suddenly. She was deeply loved by her family, church, neighbors, classmates and teachers.  Imagining this world not graced by the childlike innocence of Jennifer Adams is difficult.

The world has lost a bit of its sparkle and uniqueness without her, but Heaven is certainly an even brighter place with Jennifer Adams there dancing, running, racing and leaping at last.

Columnist Connie Nolen can be reached by e–mail at