Patrick Henry Hughes: Pure Potential
By Jewel Graham
The 700 Club
You may recognize Patrick Henry Hughes from ABC’s Extreme Home Makeover. The show provided an ADA-compliant home completely accessible to Patrick Henry and his family.
“This house has helped me become more independent,” he tells The 700 Club. “I’m able to get around more independently, and there’s also some really great technology that has enabled me to do certain things, for example, my homework more.”
As a college student, Patrick Henry has already published his first book, and he’s also a successful musician -- an amazing feat when you find out that he was born without eyes. Doctors also told his parents that due to several birth defects, he would never walk.
His mother, Patricia, says, “Anytime there’s a problem with a birth, you immediately go into the worst case scenario. So you try to suppress that is he going to live or how bad it is.”
His father, Patrick John, says, “It took days for all of the information and then eventually even weeks for all of the information to come in about Patrick. We still had to play the waiting game, because we didn’t know how he was going to develop mentally. I remember many times thinking, ‘God, why us?’ You go through a period of anger, denial and rage.
But then, his parents would soon learn that Patrick Henry would defy all the odds. His father was left alone with his six-week-old newborn son for the first time. The baby cried constantly. In an act of desperation, Patrick John placed his son on top of the piano. As he played classical music, his son quit crying.
Nine months later, Patrick Henry began picking out notes from the comforts of his high chair.
“It just fit perfectly at that piano,” Patrick John says, “so that Patrick’s little knees would go underneath where the keyboard sits. I put him there and played. I found three notes at random, and nine months old, he found those three notes and played them back to me in succession. I was blown away. Everyday we would sit at the piano, I’d play his nursery rhyme songs or we’d do little listen and play exercises.”
Little Patrick was making his mark in unexpected ways.
Patrick John says. “Certainly Christ was always a part of our home. But outside of the home, we weren’t really involved with a church. Patrick is so God-centered and God-focused.”
Patrick Henry’s faith was evident early on from his insistence on attending church every week to making sure someone prayed before meals. He was emerging a leader.
“My faith has sustained me,” he says. “I think there are some days that have been a little stressing, but whenever I have those feelings and I really think there’s no way I can get out of them, I just turn to God and say a little prayer. ‘Lord, give me strength to get me through this.’
“People have asked how I would describe my disabilities, and my answer typically is not disabilities at all, more abilities. Some people with sight tend to judge others by what they see on the outside, for example, skin color, hair length or the clothes they wear. Of course I don’t see that and I never have. Because of this, I only see that which is within a person.”
In junior high school, Patrick Henry got involved in band and orchestra. His love for performing carried over to college at the University of Louisville. He wanted to play trumpet in the pep band. What he didn’t know was marching band was a requirement. His father helps him do the marches.
Patrick Henry says, “He does a pretty good job, typically doesn’t mess up too much. He hasn’t dumped me over yet, and we haven’t take out any musicians. So everything’s good so far.”
Patrick continues to challenge the faith of those around him.
“Patrick is on his 5th reading of the Bible now at age 20,” Patricia says. “I haven’t read it all the way through. It keeps me reminding me of what I need to do and how I need to live.”
His dad says, “It didn’t take us many months to realize how great Patrick was.”
Patrick Henry’s positive outlook on life is evident in his new book, I Am Potential.
“I would like to challenge people to live their life to the fullest and to realize their potential. Life is a beautiful thing, and there’s so much to do in life. You’ve got today, but you’re not always guaranteed tomorrow.”
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