Living

More than a disability -- he's dad

Published 8:37 AM ET, Fri December 27, 2013
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When Isabel Hayes was a toddler, she'd climb onto her dad's chair for a ride; Ben Hayes has been a quadriplegic since his daughter was 6 months old. "He used to tilt back and raise her up in the air. She LOVED it," Erin Hayes said. Courtesy Erin Hayes
Izzy helps Ben open his stocking at Christmas in 2009, as she does every year. Courtesy Erin Hayes
Izzy puts clips in her dad's hair in 2010. "They love being silly together and for all his big talk about being in charge and her listening to him, he'll do whatever she wants," Hayes said. Courtesy Erin Hayes
Izzy and her dad smile for the camera at Disney World. "She bought those ears and while we were waiting for the bus at Disney, she put them on him and asked him to pose with her," Hayes said. "She thinks it's hysterical to make him look silly so she does it at much as possible." Courtesy Erin Hayes
Ben and Izzy love singing, shouting and being silly together. "Too many times I've had to tell them to STOP IT because they were about to get into trouble together," Hayes said. Courtesy Erin Hayes
Ben can't feel with his left arm, and when he's relaxing, he'll dangle it down. He and Isabel were watching "Ice Age" when the child reached up and held on. They sat like that for about 30 minutes until the end of the movie. Erin Hayes posted the picture on her Facebook page and wrote: "Sometimes it takes a 6-year-old to remind me of what is really important ... love." Courtesy Erin Hayes
At night, Izzy crawls onto the counter so she can give her dad a kiss. Courtesy Erin Hayes
Ben and Izzy in 2011, hugging for the first time in five years. He now has a standing chair and is able to move his left arm enough to put it around her and squeeze. "The joy on her face says it all. I cried while taking the photo," Hayes said. Courtesy Erin Hayes
The author with Ben and Izzy in 2011. Hayes says their daughter taught them how to be a family again. Courtesy Erin Hayes