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She pushes through adversity for a stroke at politics

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TREVOR O’MEARA

The Ellis County Press

FERRIS - As the morning comes, Sheila Hatfield slowly comes to reality as she wakes up from a night’s sleep.

…She can’t tell where her left arm is.

"On May 6, 2007, I woke up with my left arm and hand completely numb," Hatfield said. "We knew something was wrong, so I was rushed to Baylor Hospital in Dallas immediately. It was there that they told me I had had a stroke."

Since the day a plaque of cholesterol chipped from her artery and lodged itself in her right brain lobe, Hatfield has struggled with recovery from her attack.

"While recovering from the stroke, the smallest things became mountains for me," Hatfield said.

"Learning to smile again was really hard because my face was partially paralyzed."

Yet besides the inevitable challenges of rehabilitation, one more trial had added itself to her plate:

She decided to run for Ferris City Council.

"People in Ferris don’t have enough of a voice in their city," Hatfield said.

"I want to make sure there’s a way for better communications between the people of Ferris and their government."

While most politicians need only deal with the affairs of the people, Hatfield handled a personal health detriment as well. Her experience with a stroke tested her endurance often in her personal life.

"For a while I was completely paralyzed on my left side," Hatfield said.

"I’m still somewhat paralyzed in my left arm, but now I can walk with a cane or use a wheelchair."

Besides health challenges, Hatfield, who is married to The Ellis County Press publisher Charles Hatfield, has also dealt with professional obstacles. Her career has presented her with multiple difficulties.

"My stroke is what I felt hindered me the most, because I’m not used to being down," Hatfield said.

"Beforehand, while I worked in the newspaper business, one of my hardest tasks was exposing the truth in current issues."

Despite her setbacks, however, Hatfield continues her campaign undeterred. The stroke failed to paralyze her ability to try to stand as a leader for the people.

"I need to keep myself busy and make sure I can help other people," Hatfield said. "It helps in my recovery."

Before even entering the political arena, however, Hatfield has long been a spectator of local government.

"I’ve published two Red Oak papers before, including the Red Oak Record," Hatfield said.

"Working with the paper taught me to be tough on issues. People depended on me to tell them the truth and I could not be afraid to say it."

Prior to her campaign, Hatfield pushed through a work schedule nearly twice that of most people, a task she thinks helped spurn her attack.

"Before my stroke, I was working 14 to 16 hours a day at the paper," Hatfield said.

"Once I started to run, however, I only thought of more reasons to stay in the campaign. After my work experience and my stroke, very little discourages me."

"God’s performed a lot of miracles for me and I’ve had a lot of therapy to help me recover," she said.

"One Sunday at church, a pastor laid hands on me and I was able to stand alone."

Currently, Hatfield seeks to replace two-term city councilman and former Ferris mayor Rick Barrett. She wants to improve communications between the government and people.

"People must be able to have a voice over what happens in their city," Hatfield said.

"Over the years, Ferris’ citizens’ voices have slowly been taken away from them. I want to be able to give them back their government and have them decide what happens to the city through means such as public forums. I’ve also noticed that open-meetings laws are not being enforced, so I’d also like to enforce them."

From the outset of her health ordeal, she has also acquired a somewhat personal motive for serving the city. Part of her hopes are to, in a way, return the favors people have shown her in her crisis.

"When I had the stroke people helped me so much," she said. "The late Gale Villa even helped me to find a wheelchair so I could move around. The people of Ferris help everybody, and I want to be able to give back to them."


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