They say laughter is good for the heart and for Jake Gray, it’s the perfect dose of medicine for others.
"The thing when I visit....I like to leave them laughing,” said Gray.
The minute you meet Gray you can tell his personality is just as fun as his sense of humor.
"I think humor and a great upbeat attitude is a great way to leave a patient,” said Gray.
While Gray is humorous, he is also humble, so much so, that he doesn't consider himself an "everyday hero.”
"I know this series is called 'Everyday Heroes,' heroes is a little bit of a strong word; I’m just the flag bearer,” said Gray.
Gray is the president of the Mended Hearts program at CaroMont Health, a program of volunteers who visit heart patients. Gray was once a heart patient himself.
"When I got the help and care that I got here, all of a sudden, I just wanted to give back, and it's something that's kind of a late life epiphany,” said Gray.
For nearly the last seven years, Gray has volunteered at the hospital, making, "two thousand, twenty-five hundred visits over my period of time,” he says.
All of those visits, with heart patients and families during one of the most difficult and scariest times of their lives.
Gray visits with all kinds of cardiac patients, saying, “we even work in heartache and heartburn."
As a volunteer, Gray does administrative work and during those visits with cardiac patients, he brings a smile, a laugh, and some encouragement, even using his own experience as a patient to help ease worries.
"When you walk in there and you tell this patient, I’m a heart patient too, I’ve been in this bed too, you open an immediate line of contact, where you can talk about the things, that are bothering them, how they are doing,” said Gray.
While Gray doesn't see himself as a hero, those around him do, including the hospital staff. Susan Murphy is a registered nurse with CaroMont Health. She has seen Gray and the impact he has on patients and their families at the CaroMont Hospital.
"I think having him come visit has helped the families,” said Murphy.
Wayne Setzer, a fellow volunteer with the Mended Hearts program, doesn’t think things would be the same without Gray.
"I think the hospital would have a big void without him,” said Setzer.
But, Gray doesn’t believe it’s just him making a difference, but many others all coming together.
"Our whole society, we've got great people helping other people in all areas of volunteer work, trying to help them with everything in the world, we just happen to be dealing with heart patients."
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