It's been a difficult few months for a local military man who was recently hit with a sudden illness. A benefit poker run and concert are planned Saturday in Shawnee to raise funds for Naval Petty Officer Jake Hayes, 25.

It's been a difficult few months for a local military man who was recently hit with a sudden illness.

A benefit poker run and concert are planned Saturday in Shawnee to raise funds for Naval Petty Officer Jake Hayes, 25.

His second cousin Addie explains his ordeal:

In May, while Hayes was serving on the USS Lake Champlain in the Sea of Japan, he became mysteriously ill.

Hayes' symptoms of fever and headache seemed typical enough at first, but just a couple days later he was intubated, in a coma and doctors did not know if he would survive.

His mother, Stacey Michael, of Newalla, immediately began making travel plans.

Addie said, after almost a week Hayes was transported to Ajou University Hospital in Suwon, South Korea. Doctors initially thought he had contracted Japanese Encephalitis, but he was not responding to the treatment, she said.

“Ultimately, Hayes and his mother were sent stateside, via medical flight to San Diego, California, where he was immediately diagnosed with Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM),” she said.

ADEM is an autoimmune condition which causes inflammation in the brain and spinal cord. ADEM can occur after infection or vaccinations, which military personnel receive on a regular basis, Addie said.

“After nearly two months, Hayes regained consciousness, but the illness had severely damaged his body,” she said. “He suffered from three different types of pneumonia, as well as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureas (MRSA).”

His illness also resulted in several lesions on his brain, which caused the loss of Jake's motor skills, Addie said. Since early July, he has been working with medical personnel, teaching his body how to perform the most basic functions, including walking, along with feeding and dressing himself, she said.

Addie said Jake's mom has and will continue to stay by his side while he recovers — which will be lengthy.

“She has taken a leave of absence from work and left her husband and daughter behind in Oklahoma,” Addie said. “Due to the financial burden on the family, Jake's Aunt Charity Thompson has organized a poker run and concert to raise funds to assist the family.”

The poker run begins at 10 a.m. Saturday at Sehorn Yamaha, at 2555 N. Harrison Ave. in Shawnee, and will end at 5 p.m. at the Veterans-Foreign Wars Shawnee (VFW) Post 1317, at 811 E. MacArthur St.

The poker run is $15 per bike and $5 for each additional person.

Following the poker run, prizes will be awarded and there will be additional drawings and an auction, Addie said.

The evening will continue with a concert featuring Tecumseh band The Fullbrights, she said, followed by an appearance from country artist and Bethel Acres native Wade Hayes.

Admission for the concert alone is $10.

“This concert is an important event for Wade Hayes, since Jake is his nephew,” Addie said.

Proceeds will go to help Jake Hayes and his family, whose roots run deep in the area.

His grandparents live in Bethel, his aunt lives in Shawnee and he has several cousins and great aunts and uncles throughout the Shawnee, Tecumseh and Bethel area. Jake and his mother are originally from Bethel.

A GoFundMe account also has been set up. To make a donation, visit gofundme.com/uqh4w-teamjake.