January 16, 2013

Adair lends helping hand

January 16, 2013 Sports Editor Wes Reynolds

PRYOR — Adair High School considers all of Mayes County family.

The school has designated Friday Jan. 18, as “Coach Hicks” night in honor of  Pryor Basketball Coach Todd Hicks and is donating a portion of Friday’s Adair versus Kansas game proceeds to help offset some of his medical bills.

Hicks was diagnosed with ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease nearly three years ago.

The idea for such an occasion was born late last year at a Region 3 coaches and athletic directors meeting.

During the meeting, Pryor Athletic Director Steve Jarboe updated those in attendance about Hicks. Adair Athletic Director Brad Rogers presented the idea to Adair Superintendent Tom Linihan the next morning, who presented the proposal to the school board in December.

The idea was passed unanimously as a resolution.

“Pryor and Adair are neighbors,” Linihan said. “Anytime you see your neighbor in need, you want to reach out and help, however you can. He (Hicks) touched a lot of people’s lives in Pryor, and he’s an excellent role model for anyone facing any type of adversity - especially for those whose health take a turn like his did.”

Adair cheerleaders will be on hand at halftime to accept donations.

A silent auction is slated as well. Pryor Stone has donated pecans to the cause, and Linihan said the school welcomes additional items from businesses or individuals.

The progression of Hicks’ condition has been rapid. The muscle deterioration that characterizes the disease has almost completely robbed him of the use of his hands.

His speech is labored, but whichever muscles are responsible for contracting to produce a smile seem unaffected.

“I’m worse than I was yesterday, but I’m better than I will be tomorrow,” Hicks said, smiling.

Hicks recently finished taking part in a double-blind clinical trial for those with ALS at the University of Kansas. He and his wife, April, said while on the medication provided, the progression of the symptoms halted. Two weeks after the six-month study ended, the disease continued where it left off.

He is on a waiting list for phase III of the trial, though if contacted to participate, he cannot be assured he wouldn’t receive the placebo.

“When he signed paperwork to participate in the trial, it clearly states that this is aimed at helping benefit future generations,” April Hicks said.

April Hicks said the couple take the battle with the disease a day at a time.

Staying positive means using laughter to lighten the mental load. And humor has been present since the day the two were informed of the serious illness.

“We pulled up at Sonic the day we left the doctor’s office,” April Hicks said. “The girl comes on the speaker and says ‘you just made happy hour, it’s your lucky day.’ We looked at each other and laughed a little. He said, ‘yeah really lucky day.’”

Hicks said dealing with the exhausting disease affords him better days than others.

Though the use of his muscles slowly fail, he is as crisp mentally as the day diagnosed.

“Some days I wish it affected my mental state also, because I sometimes think It might be easier if I was unaware,” said Hicks. “In a way, I’m trapped inside my body.”

Still, Hicks counts blessings daily.

He said he believes everything happens for a reason. Conviction is clear when he states, “God has a plan.”

Hicks currently coaches the Pryor junior varsity girls, who practice at Lincoln Elementary School, and is immensely grateful to Norman Hall, his coaching assistant (and Pryor teacher) who acts as Hicks’ voice during practice.

This will be the last year Hicks does what has defined him for a third of his life - coach basketball.

He said making the decision was tough because coaching has been a part of his life for so long.

The respected coach said he has always made it clear to students he welcomes any questions about his condition. And if laughter is medicine, he doesn’t have to look far when filling in at the elementary as a substitute.

“This first-grade girl came up to me and said, ‘your legs aren’t working are they?’” Hicks said. “I told her, ‘no they’re not.’ She said ‘are they asleep?’ I told her ‘yes they’re asleep.’ She said, ‘well when you go home tonight, pour some water on them and they will wake up.’”



 

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