Injured Coach Hekekia on the mend

Contributed Photo/Courtesy Brent Hekekia: Injured coach Gerald Hekekia gets ready to watch the college football championship game Monday night with son, Barry Hekekia, and friend.

By Brooke Curley

SAFFORD- With the love and support of a community behind him, Coach Gerald Hekekia is recovering.

According to family members, Hekekia suffered a fall in his residence at about 4 a.m on January 9. He was transported to Barrow’s Neurological Center in Phoenix for surgery to repair his spinal cord. Hekekia also suffered nerve damage to the ligaments in his neck.

Gerald Hekekia is a longtime Gila Valley coach, having coached both football and volleyball at Thatcher and Pima, respectively. He also coached at Eastern Arizona College, where he led the Gila Monsters to a national championship in 1991. Hekekia was also named National Coach of the Year in 1992.

Contributed Photo: EAC Athletic Director Jim Bagnall, left, presents a plaque to former EAC volleyball coach Gerald Hekekia honoring his induction into the ACCAC’s 2016 Hall of Fame class during an EAC volleyball game Sept. 28.

Gila Valley Central caught up with a family friend of the Hekekia family, Shari Kay, on Thursday, and received the news that Coach Hekekia is making wonderful strides in recovery.

“Two or three days ago, he was able to do four laps (walking) around a track,” Kay said. “His right arm, which is the arm they were concerned about, he can open up his hand a good three inches and he can move all of his digits now. He went back to the surgeon yesterday and they took the staples out of his neck. Before, the doctor wouldn’t guarantee anything, but when he saw him(that day) he said, ‘You’re going to walk fine.’”

According to Kay, who was receiving her information directly from Hekekia’s son, Hekekia is very happy with the progress of his therapy.

“He’s in good spirits, and he’s happy, but he’s just tired,” Kay said. “He feels like he just needs sleep.”

Kay, along with Patti Wren, has worked with a slew of others within the community to raise money to help the Hekekia family with their medical expenses. There were bake sales, and now raffle tickets are available for individuals who still wish to contribute.

Contributed Photo/Courtesy Brent Hekekia: Coach Gerald Hekekia underwent a three-hour surgery to repair his spine.

“It has been humbling to see the response of this community to help Coachie. He has touched countless people and a few generations,” Kay said. “Having said that, it’s not just those people that know him. Many who do not know him have also contributed. People have freely given by donating goods, services, time and money. All the local schools in this area have been involved, (and) people want to help. It’s just overwhelming in a beautiful way.”

For more information regarding the bake sale or to take part in the auction email Patti Wren at

List of Raffle Items

We would like to thank everyone who donated items and bid on the items for the auction for Coach Hekekia. Our Community is amazing! We had 143 items donated and exceeded our fundraising goal.

We have extra items donated for the auction for Coach Hekekia. We decided to do a drawing for these particular items instead.

Eastern Arizona College T-shirt Quilt – Handmade by Suzette Udall (Can be viewed in person at the Records Office)

Lasagna Dinner for 50 from Sodexo –
(lasagna, rice pilaf, broccoli medley, dinner rolls, tossed salad, pink lemonade and pie)

Dinner Party for 3 families – Boulevard Glass
(Pulled pork, sides, dessert and beverage)

2 – Piano tuning from Geoff Despain (Valued at $100/tuning)

Tickets go on sale tomorrow morning!

3 places to buy tickets –
Monday thru Friday EAC Records Office from 8am-4:45pm
Monday thru Friday EAC Activities Center Ticket Window from Noon-5pm
All EAC home basketball games thru February 10th

Tickets will be $3/ticket or $10/4 tickets.

Drawing will be held February 10th during the half-time of the EAC Men’s Basketball Game.

You can put your tickets in the bucket of whichever item you would like to win!

All funds will go to assist with medical and travel expenses for Coach Jerry Hekekia.

Thank you for your support!

Patti Wren
ASEAC Ribbon Club Advisor