Born severely premature, Jayna spent the first three months of her life in the intensive care unit where she underwent 14 pneumothoraxes due to pulmonary distress, open heart surgery at 6 weeks old, and 2 complete blood exchanges, among many other medical complications. As a result of her survival, she was dubbed the Arizona Miracle Baby and written up in several medical journals regarding her odds. Medications given to sustain her life left Jayna with a severe to profound hearing loss. Doctors predicted as a result of such complications that Jayna would never live a normal life, learn to speak, or obtain beyond a third grade education.
Despite such dismal predictions, Jayna learned to speak beautifully as a result of intensive auditory verbal therapy for 12 years. She went on to graduate with distinction and honors from the University California San Diego. She has completed classes towards a doctorate in Audiology at CID/Washington University School of Medicine. Above all, she lives life vivaciously!
On July 26, 2008, Jayna captured the title of Miss International®
2008, and accomplished a long held goal of hers – to obtain a global platform to advocate for different abilities (disability) through her programs – Abilities First and I CAN: Inspiring Confidence in Abilities Now.
Jayna first developed I CAN: Inspiring Confidence in Abilities Now when she saw a rising need in parents who wanted guidelines and inspiration on how to live with a different ability (disability). However, she quickly realized that early identification and appropriate diagnosis were essential as well, especially after learning that 1.1 billion individuals are affected by a different ability (disability), with 1 in 3 families as a caretaker for those individuals. Of those different abilities (disability), 74% are invisible, and overall, there is a low cultural awareness.
With that in mind, she developed Abilities First, which focuses on the educational and health aspects through three phases – Identification and Intervention, Education and Knowledge, and Utilizing Surrounding Support Services.
According to Jayna, “I once heard that you can preach a better sermon with your life, than you can with your words. Therefore, I am using my life in conjunction with my programs to serve as an example of confidence in living with a different ability.”
Today and in the past, Jayna serves as a role model and advocate for all types of different abilities (disability). Currently, she serves as a spokesperson for Special Olympics, and Ability Beyond Disability. She has worked with several organizations, which has allowed her the opportunity to travel more than 100,000 miles speaking on behalf of different abilities (disability) related causes. Additionally, she has assisted in raising more than $8 million dollars towards various charitable and educational organizations working towards greater awareness on such issues.
Below are some of roles she currently, and/or has served over the years:
• Spokesperson/Speaker for Special Olympics
• Spokesperson/Speaker/Advocate for Ability Beyond Disability
• Poster child/ Alumni Spokesperson for John Tracy Clinic
• State Board Trustee for Hearing Loss Association of America
• State Conference Speaker with Heather Whitestone-McCallum (Miss America 1995)
• National and State Conference Speaker for Alexander Graham Bell Association
• Serve in the following organizations: Special Olympics, John Tracy Clinic, Ability beyond Disability, Hearing Loss Association of America, Best Buddies, enAble (Pepsi), Starkey Foundation - So the World May Hear, Alexander Graham Bell Association, Arthritis Foundation, March of Dimes, Lymphoma and Leukemia Society, etc.