People Who Save the World

The day begins for Jenny Hicks. It’s a day like any other. She wakes up. Loads the coffeemaker. Gets dressed. Brushes her teeth. Starts the car.

Then she saves the world.

She leaves the house. It’s morning time. The sun is rising over rural Georgia like an orange billiard ball.

She pulls her SUV to the curb of a nondescript house. She leaps out of the vehicle. Her friend’s wheelchair is parked by the curb.

Meet Ben. He is a grown man with a developmental disability. He is waiting here for her.

“HI MISS JENNY!” Ben says.

Jenny gives him a hug. “Are you ready for our trip today, Ben?”

“FIELD TRIP!” he shouts. “FIELD TRIP!”

Whereupon Jenny Hicks rolls up her sleeves and lifts Ben into the backseat of the SUV. She strains to get him situated. She twists. She uses every muscle she has. She struggles. Then she buckles him in.

And now that she has worked up a sweat, her day is just beginning. Because it’s time to go pick up her next passenger.

“This is my life,” she says. “And I love it.”

Jenny started PEAK a few years ago. PEAK is a donor-funded program run by volunteers. It is a program for people with developmental disabilities. People who have graduated from high school and suddenly found themselves lost in the crevices of a society that has forgotten them.

Jenny cut her teeth working in high school special education. She’s seen the best and the worst. Early in her career, she noticed something was wrong with the system.

“Too many of my students were graduating and going straight to the sofa,” said Jenny. “And that just wasn’t good enough for me. I had a former student pass away, and she hadn’t seen her friends for years before her death.”

Everyone deserves the opportunity to keep having a life. Everyone should have the right to continue learning, making friends, and being part of the human race.

Jenny began working toward these goals while still working as a teacher.

One year for prom, she got the whole school involved in planning an accessible prom for her students.

She arranged for tuxedo rentals. She got gowns donated for every young woman who wanted one. And when the wheelchair accessible limousine pulled up to the curb that night, everyone totally freaked out. For many students, it was the best night of their existence.

And that’s what Jenny has been doing with her life. She’s been helping her friends. Rescuing planet earth. One person at a time.

Now that she has started PEAK, she teaches basic life skills. She teaches persons with developmental disabilities how to keep living, how to keep having fun.

Jenny and her volunteers teach adults with developmental disabilities how to do everything. She teaches them how to shop at Walmart, how to buy groceries, how to budget, and how not to blow all their cash on, say, Chili Cheese Fritos.

She takes them to the zoo, to concerts, to the beach, to the park, to art class, the theater, the opera, you name it.

“We recently helped coordinate a trip for a couple brothers with cerebral palsy to the beach. They hadn’t ever seen the waves or put their toes in the sand. So we took them. We loaded them up and gave them the beach. That’s what PEAK is all about.”

But it’s not easy for Jenny to physically lift middle-aged guys into SUVs using nothing but her raw strength and the Joy of the Lord. It’s getting more difficult for volunteers to keep this up, too. Everyone’s lower backs are complaining.

Currently, PEAK is trying to buy a wheelchair accessible van. But these custom vehicles cost about as much as tactical government submarines.

This is rural Georgia. PEAK is an itty-bitty organization.

Jenny has held a few fundraisers. She’s tried to get the ball rolling. Donations have been trickling in, but the money is coming from unexpected places. Mostly, from people who can’t afford it.

“Everytime a donation comes in I cry,” she says. “Because it’s usually from someone making a huge sacrifice.”

An elderly couple donated $5 in a ratty envelope.

A little girl donated her piggy bank, with tears in her little eyes.

A blue-collar man turned over his paycheck.

A guy in the parking lot of O’Charley’s saw Jenny struggling with a wheelchair, he donated $20 right there.

A middle-schooler donated $41.84, the entirety of her life savings.

Elderly men in faded clothes, with developmentally disabled sons, send in a few bucks at a time. Church ladies with big hearts send in cash. Local contractors. Farmers. Teachers. Quarterbacks. Majorettes. Preachers. Mill workers. High schoolers with summer jobs. Derelict columnists with buck teeth.

“It’s coming, a little bit at a time,” says Jenny. “We’re going to get this van. It’s not a matter of if, just a matter of when. Someday we’ll have wheels.”


And then, Jenny Hicks can go back to saving the world.


  1. Wendy - September 28, 2022 7:04 am

    How can we help them reach their goal
    For a new van? Is there a contact to make a donation?

  2. PMc - September 28, 2022 7:31 am

    How about a donation account! I would love to give to it. 🙏💖
    Peace and Love from Birmingham

  3. Bill - September 28, 2022 8:26 am

    In ref to the PEAK program in Georgia, is there a contact person or address for a small donation here and there?

  4. Laura W. - September 28, 2022 8:56 am

    C’mon Sean, you have to tell us how to find PEAK. I have a feeling your followers could help Miss Jenny. I did a cursory search under her name and PEAK but nothing came up. I would love to make a donation for her van.

  5. Debbie - September 28, 2022 8:59 am

    Peak is an acronym for Programs for Empowerment Acceptance and Knowledge, inc. It is located in Pike County, Ga.

    Donations can be made online at:

  6. Jack - September 28, 2022 9:15 am

    Where can I make a donation?

    • Debbie - September 28, 2022 9:22 am

      Jack, you can donate online at :

      • Beth Romanelli - September 28, 2022 2:54 pm

        Thank you, Debbie. It couldn’t be easier to make a donation!

  7. MermaidGrammy - September 28, 2022 10:08 am

    I hope someone in the car selling business reads your column. He or she would surely make the best deal of his/her life

  8. Becky Moon - September 28, 2022 10:30 am

    Thank you for telling Jenny’s story. I will make a donation and let others know also. She will have her van soon, thanks be to God and Sean Dietrich.

  9. John Bass - September 28, 2022 10:39 am

    How do we contribute to PEAK?

  10. Jana - September 28, 2022 10:47 am

    Can you please provide and address or link for donations?

  11. Susan Cassedy - September 28, 2022 10:57 am

    Sean there are a lot of ways you could help facilitate a fundraiser for PEAK. Research Sharon Says So or Carlos Whittaker (losewit) on Instagram. They’re the real deal when it comes to raising money for organizations like PEAK

  12. Susan Brillhart - September 28, 2022 10:58 am

    Wait – WAIT!!! Where is the donation link? I’m here for exactly this type of stuff. Let me add my little bit!

  13. Helen Rogers - September 28, 2022 11:01 am

    Do you have a place we can send donations for the wheelchair assessable van? Love your columns. You show the best in people and we need that. Thank you for always starting my morning off on a positive note!

  14. Lola - September 28, 2022 11:02 am

    How can we donate towards a van?

  15. Bess Rich - September 28, 2022 11:07 am

    Do you have an address so we may mail a donation?

  16. Susan - September 28, 2022 11:09 am

    How can we help Jenny?

  17. Judy Myler - September 28, 2022 11:51 am

    So how can we donate?

  18. Cheryl Newsome - September 28, 2022 11:53 am

    For people like me who don’t do money things online–here’s the donation address – PEAK, Inc.
    815 Wood Creek Road Williamson, GA 30292

  19. Ann Nutt - September 28, 2022 11:55 am

    Could you share contact info about this person so I can send a donation. LOVE your columns. Keep up the good work.

  20. Linda Edwards - September 28, 2022 12:02 pm

    Can you publish the address of PEAK?

  21. Mike Hagley - September 28, 2022 12:07 pm

    How can people contribute to PEAK?

  22. Elgin Carver - September 28, 2022 12:07 pm

    Not a negative comment, but an address on your column for donations might have been of assistance for those far afield.

  23. mccutchen52 - September 28, 2022 12:13 pm

    Sometimes angels come with strong backs and not wings.

  24. Irene Steele - September 28, 2022 12:32 pm

    Please send information on where I can donate to PEAK. I’ve been looking it up and can’t find anything. Thanks for all that you do!

  25. Aultie - September 28, 2022 12:32 pm

    Has she ever done a “Go fund me” post?

  26. Connie McDowell - September 28, 2022 12:51 pm

    Please give an address where we can send donations.

  27. Debbie Haggerty - September 28, 2022 12:58 pm

    Can we get Jenny’s address to contribute to the van?

  28. Cheryl Taylor - September 28, 2022 1:04 pm

    If she starts a “go fund me” account and puts a link on your blog, she should get legitimately larger donations quickly. People will donate if they have a direct and easy way of funneling money.

    • Brenda - September 28, 2022 3:47 pm


  29. Margaret Byrd - September 28, 2022 1:06 pm

    How do we help her get that van? Need more info. I’m
    A retired Special Ed teacher.

  30. Michelle - September 28, 2022 1:29 pm

    If you will publish the address or how we can donate I would love to send some money!

    • Jenny Castle - September 29, 2022 1:20 am

      Donations may also be sent to
      PEAK, Inc.
      815 Wood Creek Road
      Williamson, GA 30292

  31. Mari Bonomi - September 28, 2022 1:31 pm

    If someone starts a Gofundme, lots of your readers will throw a few bucks her way, including me!

  32. Kathy Dowdy - September 28, 2022 1:32 pm

    How can we donate? Can you provide contact info?

  33. Nancy Briski - September 28, 2022 1:39 pm

    Where do I send a donation to PEAK?

  34. KS - September 28, 2022 1:41 pm

    Very compelling story! Thank you for an opportunity to contribute to a great cause!

  35. Heather Miller - September 28, 2022 1:43 pm

    Thank you for this article about one unsung hero. Except, she is not unsung among the disabled people she touches. Cheryl Newsome posted the address in ‘comments,’ so please do all of us a big favor and follow up on this story one month from now. I believe Jenny Hicks will have the money for a new handicapped accessible van. Your investigation is spot on: after age 21, when all people with developmental/physical disabilities have finished high school, they are left at home to watch tv. We are incredibly fortunate in my southern city to have some very good programs. Kaleidoscope is a fine program that my granddaughter is involved in, and she loves it. Come to Mobile and I’ll give you a tour!

  36. Darlene Smith - September 28, 2022 1:56 pm

    I would like to make a donation to PEAK but cannot find the organization on-line. Please let your readers know how we can help PEAK raise money for their wheelchair accessible van.

  37. Liza - September 28, 2022 2:02 pm

    I would like to donate to Jenny’s PEAK. I can’t find it on the Internet. Could you send me her contact information?

  38. Debbie - September 28, 2022 2:07 pm

    PEAK, inc.

    815 Woodcreek Rd
    Williamson, Ga

  39. Patricia Gibson - September 28, 2022 2:08 pm

    Sean, Can you tell her to start a GoFundMe page or give us a way to donate and we will spread the word!

  40. Susan - September 28, 2022 2:10 pm

    How can we contribute?

  41. Stacey Wallace - September 28, 2022 2:34 pm

    Thanks for making the day of two retired teachers, my husband and me. May God bless Jenny and provide that new van. I know that He will. Love to you, Jamie, and Marigold.

  42. Sue Rhodus - September 28, 2022 2:46 pm

    These people..these kind, never tiring, forever dedicated hearts are the backbone of America !!
    Salute !!!!

  43. Peggy M. Windham - September 28, 2022 3:00 pm

    As a special educator, I love this and can totally relate! God bless Jenny and her volunteers!

  44. Bill DeVore - September 28, 2022 3:03 pm

    Donation made & Jenny’s story shared on Facebook.

  45. Mary - September 28, 2022 3:14 pm

    Evidence of God’s angels tight here on earth, for sure. God Bless You!

  46. Rhonda Dickinson - September 28, 2022 3:29 pm

    Donated at her site.

  47. Sharon Allemang - September 28, 2022 3:43 pm

    Wonderful program!! More people need to get involved!!

  48. youngatheart49 - September 28, 2022 3:48 pm

    How can we donate?

  49. Tara Robinett - September 28, 2022 4:18 pm

    Could you post the address where somebody could send a donation?

  50. Carol - September 28, 2022 4:49 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for introducing me to Hero Jenny… Donation will be made! We must save this dear woman’s back!

  51. Patricia Vasquez - September 28, 2022 4:52 pm

    How can we donate to Jenny’s PEAK?

  52. Connie R. McGuire - September 28, 2022 5:15 pm

    Where can one donate to this organization?

  53. lindadmiresean - September 28, 2022 5:17 pm

    Hey Sean…..Why didn’t you give us her mailing address??

  54. Rosa Hippensteel - September 28, 2022 6:17 pm

    Dear Sean,

    A friend shared your commentary with us and we find the stories you share uplifting and thought provoking. Thank you! For the story on “Jenny,” how would one go about connecting to provide support for the fundraising efforts?

    Thank you, again,


  55. Carole Cornell - September 28, 2022 7:16 pm

    Thank you for writing this and letting us all know about the good work that Jenny is doing. I sent a donation and I hope lots more of your readers do too.

  56. MAM - September 28, 2022 7:37 pm

    I know several of you suggested GoFundMe, but please do not create an account, as it is well known for keeping, not giving out or cancelling donations. It’s much better to use , which is a Christian donation site. But always sending directly to the address or links put in above is by far the best way!

  57. Betty Gibbs - September 28, 2022 7:37 pm

    Please let us know how to end a contribution to Jenny.

  58. Stephany S LaPointe - September 28, 2022 8:46 pm

    Where can I send a donation to?

  59. Linda Moon - September 28, 2022 9:42 pm

    Jenny, you are my kind of teacher and world-saver, too…one person, one student at a time. I wish there were more like you in this world. And, like Sean, I say “Keep climbing”. I love peaks, too, especially in Colorado. Go Jenny!

  60. joseybell - September 28, 2022 9:55 pm

    Where is the link to donate to PEAK?

  61. B W Bua - September 28, 2022 11:55 pm

    We all can give a little… but I would think there an automobile agency out there who would donate to help this wonderful woman , who spends her days days helping others.
    I’m 87 & can’t do much… isn’t there some who can call TV news, write a letter to the newspaper in her town????
    Sean, please give a little more info.

  62. Jenny Castle - September 29, 2022 12:49 am

    They also have an Amazon Wish List if you’d like to donate to that too!

  63. Anne - September 29, 2022 1:47 am

    Please post how donations to jenny can be made. Thanks Love your writings.

  64. Becky Galletly - September 29, 2022 2:29 am

    Please give a link or address to donate. There are news station affiliates that would love to report this. Also Mike Huckabee has a spotlight called Hucks Heroes. Please get him in touch with Jenny.

  65. Patrica Taylor - September 29, 2022 4:30 am

    An Automobile dealership may donate a van if they knew about PEAK. It needs to go out to major networks and people who could do this. I plan to mail a donation and hopefully many more will and they will soon have their van. Thanks for sharing info about this very worthy cause.

  66. Bill Hilley - September 29, 2022 2:34 pm

    God bless Jenny Hicks! I pray for the resources, donors, strength, persistence & patience for her & the volunteers that help her. Thank you Sean for providing this, because it’s small organizations like this, that make such a huge difference in people’s lives, that I like to support. I’m asking others to help make the handicap van possible.

  67. Larry Wall - September 29, 2022 5:00 pm

    You do many good things through your writing, Sean Dietrich, and this was certainly one of the best of them. Thank you for doing a fundraiser for Jenny and her organization and her clients and for letting us readers know about them. Donation done in their honor.

  68. davidpbfeder - September 29, 2022 5:30 pm

    Hey, Sean, how about including a link to donate to PEAK? (!!)

  69. Myrna Powell - September 29, 2022 10:59 pm

    Wonder Woman…has she tried to contact Tim Tebow’ organization?

  70. Sue D. Kay - September 29, 2022 11:15 pm

    Tell us how to donate!

  71. Beth Campbell - September 30, 2022 2:58 am

    amazing story! I live in Birmingham Al, check out a place called Un Less U, similar drive. Lindy Cleveland has been a force for continuing special education!


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