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Overcoming Odds & Obstacles: Ivey Hayes


You know the hat, the smile and the hands. Amazingly, the twisted hands are those of a painter.

“Believe it or not it was the greatest thing that could ever happen to me,” said Ivey Hayes/

While he earned a masters degree in art, Ivey Hayes was earning his living as a bailer at Wilmington’s Federal Paper Company. Though he was good, painting was a watercolor pastime.

Then severe rheumatoid arthritis set in. By the summer of 1987, Ivey was disabled by it. That is when his doctor recommended that he use painting as therapy.

“As a result of getting sick, it gave me time to use my hands and get into painting like never before,” Hayes said. “And so it was a positive thing, not a negative thing. As a result of using painting as therapy you see what’s here today”

What is here today is a magnificent array of color and perspective in acrylic, born of bright visions Ivey says come from above. “I was given a gift from the Lord to be an artist.”

And the Lord speaks in colorful ways says Ivey. From the coastal scenes, to music, to sports. But even with the help of his brother Phiilip, it is getting harder.

“The doctor said I would lose my gripping and my fingers and I can see that little by little. It’s taking place. But while I can paint, I paint,” Hayes said.

Often he uses one gnarled hand to steady the other. Some days it hurts, other days it’s okay. But Ivey Hayes is not about to stop.

“As long as there is breath in this body and ability to perform, I’ll never give up. Now, I may not be able to do like I used to, but I’ll never give up,” he said.

Ivey Hayes is also a musician. He is an accomplished keyboard player. He can now use only one finger on his left hand and two fingers on his right, but he still plays regularly.

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videoTuesday’s during the month of November, we are going to tell the stories of people who have overcome odds and obstacles. These are resilient people who refuse to be defeated by disabilities or dissuaded by the chance of failure.

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