Zionsville Dad of the Year: Jay Shultz
Writer / Suzanne Huntzinger
Photographer / Amy Payne
Shultz was born and raised in Zionsville, and his parents still live in the childhood home where he grew up. He went on to college close to home at Butler University. After graduation, Shultz stayed in Zionsville and started his career with Humston Machinery, which his dad owns and he and his brother still work in sales.
Life stayed pretty predictable for Shultz until an accident during a mission trip to Haiti in 2011 changed his life forever. The Shultz family committed to a full-year mission in the economically challenged nation, plagued by the after effects of a devastating earthquake.
But the mission experience came to a screeching halt one day about six months in. Shultz was working at a construction site, and an accident left him permanently paralyzed. He says he knew a lot about the topic of paralysis and remembers being aware of what was happening to his body. He even felt himself losing air. A medic rushed to him, gave him oxygen, and he was transported to the nearest hospital in Port Au Prince, a grueling hour-and-a-half ride through winding, bumpy roads. Shultz was transported to Miami where he was treated for 10 broken ribs, a collapsed lung and various other injuries.
The reality of the paralysis hit hard and Shultz started right away on a physical therapy regimen. He wasted no time learning how to adapt to life in a wheelchair, learning how to dress and feed himself. Even more difficult was leaving behind a little Haitian girl whom the Shultz family was in the process of adopting. It didn’t stop the family from adopting her, but it made the process longer.
Shultz had to get used to everything taking a lot longer. But, he said something made the process a whole lot easier.
“I was surrounded by family and friends,” Shultz says. “Seeing how my family and the community rallied around me made me realize how truly blessed I am.”
Though life changed drastically for Shultz on that fateful day, a lot stayed the same. Shultz still handles his Northern Indiana sales territory for Humston, on the road all day long, only now, he does it with the help of hand controls.
“He’s a devoted husband, who still cooks, cleans, does grocery shopping and helps homeschool the kids,” says Shultz’s wife, Patsy. “He also still swims, bikes, rows and is active in church. He has a happy demeanor and does it all with a smile. As far as he’s concerned, he can still do it all, he just has to sit in a chair.”
Accomplishing all these things sounds a bit superhuman, even for someone without physical limitations. But not Shultz, though he admits to being an overachiever. So, he inspires others to achieve, sharing his story with sports teams, men’s groups, FFA and FCA groups just to name a few.
“We’re going to face hard times in our lives when our faith will be tested,” Shultz says. “But with faith, family and friends, you can get through the trials. When you do, you’ll be a stronger person, ready to help someone with their trials.”