TEMPE, AZ (PAY IT FORWARD) – Overcoming challenges in life can be difficult, but some people use the adversity they face to help others. Single dad Jared Parkhurst is one of them. He is legally blind and has diabetes, along with an assortment of other health issues. But despite all that seems to work against him, he shows up for work with a smile every day.
"What else am I gonna do? Curl up into a little ball and let it bury me?" Parkhurst said. "I'm just not that kind of person. I'd much rather [be like] you fall down, dust yourself off, and get right back up [and] do it again until you succeed."
A medical assistant at the Arizona State University Health Services Department, Parkhurst helps students deal with and overcome all kinds of ailments. He believes his own struggles to stay healthy make him uniquely qualified to help others.
"I have gone through a lot of sickness myself, so I know what it feels like, and I can empathize," he said. "So, I want to take some of that empathy and give it back."
Dr. Steven Poon and other staffers see how hard Parkhurst works juggling three jobs to support his two daughters. They also see how big his heart is, which is why they reached out to CBS 5 to Pay It Forward.
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"Even though he's had his own health issues that will take him out of work every once in a while, every morning he's the first one in the door, opening this building for everybody," Poon said. "There's a lot of people we see that have to overcome difficulties in life, and I think Jared would probably be one of the best examples of that."
CBS 5's cameras were there when Parkhurst got a $500 surprise.
"[We] want to let you know that on behalf of all of our staff at Health Services and Channel 5's Pay It Forward program … that you've been such an inspiration to everybody in the building -- for all the medical issues you've had to overcome, being a great role model for your daughters, working three jobs."