200 Kids and Counting story By amber smith & Photos by Sam gatewood

“I’m going to keep doing this until my doctor tells me not to.” - 61-year-old Hannah Wolfard

Even after 37 years of babysitting, she continues to thrive off of her passion for taking care of children. Since the start of her daycare career in 1980, Hannah Wolfard has had over 200 children total, around 180 of those being current Jeff High students, or Jeff High alumni.

“Around four years ago, I lost track of how many kids I have had. I stopped counting after 200,” Hannah laughed.

Before babysitting, Hannah was a housekeeper with hopes to foster children. However, due to Hannah’s cancer at the time, her doctors told her she would not be allowed to do so. She was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease -- a cancer of the lymphatic system which eventually compromises the body’s ability to fight off infection.

Although the doors to foster care were closed, her hopes of taking care of children were not over. In 1980, another opportunity presented itself, and Hannah started babysitting.

“I wanted Andy to have other kids to play with,” she says in regards to her two-year-old son at the time.

Her husband, Timmy, built everything for the children to have. Along with numerous jungle gyms and swingsets, he completely redesigned their entire garage into a playroom with a whole new look in order to have a place for the children to play.

“It was a little kid’s dream. You walked in and you were surrounded by shelves and shelves of toys. It was heaven,” said JHS junior Jason Monihon, who started going to Hannah’s at the age of one.

However, on March 22, 2014, after 40 years of marriage, Timmy passed away of a sudden heart attack.

“He built everything for the kids. I can’t believe it’s been three years (without him) -- it has been hard,” Hannah said.

After her husband’s tragic passing, Hannah went back into her normal routine with her kids. However, on Jan. 6, 2017, she was forced to take a break from babysitting as she underwent a near 12-hour open-heart surgery.

A couple days before the sudden procedure, she had an echocardiography to check up on her heart. This ultrasound test used sound waves to create pictures of every part of the heart.

The echo revealed that her heart was extremely weak, meaning she would need a cardiac catheter. During this procedure, the catheter was inserted in an artery in her groin and threaded through the blood vessels that lead to her heart.

When the catheter wasn’t enough, she was admitted into open-heart surgery.

“I just wanted to go home. It felt like prison being in that hospital. Everything was happening so quickly, it really scared me,” Hannah said.

Her doctors did a double bypass, in which her arteries were bypassed to increase blood flow to the heart. They also put in an artificial aortic valve and repaired a hole in her heart.

After her long surgery, her doctors and surgeons gave her a pillow of a heart. Her surgeon drew on the pillow the exact procedures he did on her own heart.

“It’s been an eye opener, and I’m so thankful,” Hannah said.

Since her recovery, she has gone back to what she knows and loves, babysitting.

“One thing I have learned from my kids is that kids are very special, each in their own way. I have loved watching them play, learn how to swing with no one pushing them, and just watching them grow -- it is something special,” expressed Hannah.

The memories these kids have made at her house are something to be cherished.

“Hannah has become one of the most influential people in my life; she’s like my third grandma. She has touched so many of our lives and I couldn’t imagine my life without her,” said junior Sam Gatewood.

From Goosebumps marathons and very serious capture the flag tournaments, to making childhood memories and forever friends, Hannah has left an impact in Jeffersonville that will continue to live on.

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