Driven: Young woman with disabilities overcomes adversity through job at JBT Power

Driven

DAPHNE, Ala. (WKRG) — When you walk into an outdoor equipment store — or any retail store for that matter — you typically just go in to talk to who you need to talk to, buy what you need to buy, and then leave.

There’s a store in Daphne that’s different from the rest, and a young lady named Deirryah Sappington is the reason.

Derriyah Sappington knows her stuff here at JBT Power.

From answering phones, to answering customers’ questions, she helps steer the ship in the service department at the lawn equipment store — never missing a day of work. 

“I wake up and look forward to this job for that and for the customers that I get to assist every day,” she said.

Usually the first one there and the last one to leave, Deirryah can tell you everything you need to know about different equipment, making sure each person who leaves the service desk is taken care of.

But getting to this moment is something Deirryah said took years. 

The 23-year-old has cerebral palsy and hydrocephalus, which is a chronic condition where fluid builds up in the brain. 

“When I was born I weighed two pounds and 12 ounces,” she said. “As a result of those conditions, I’ve had nine surgeries throughout my life. My last surgery was when I was 13 years old, and I’ve been relatively healthy since then.”

Because of those challenges, Deirryah said finding a job was tough. 

“I would apply for jobs and never even receive a callback or an interview. Or when I was in certain programs to help me achieve that goal, they just weren’t really able to align with what my needs were. So I’m just very grateful to have this opportunity every day,” she said.

Customers enjoy Deirryah, too.

“I don’t think you can leave Derriyah’s counter without a smile on your face. I don’t think that’s possible,” said customer Josh Fields.

“The best part is, before you leave, she always says, ‘Have a blessed day,’” customer Amy Kidd said.

It’s a phrase Deirryah says she got from her late mother. 

“She said it a lot growing up. I don’t say that as a catchphrase, have a blessed day. When I say that to them, however I’m seeing them, I truly hope that they have a blessed day,“ she said.

Owner Gregg Wood says despite her disabilities, Deirryah has exceeded his expectations. 

“We underestimated her, ” Wood said. “We have to a lot of times tell her, Deirryah, put that down… I think that’s what we found out — that it’s kind of eye-opening to us that we thought we would have to bring her in and protect her. We don’t. She’s capable of doing the work and actually doing a lot more than we expect.”

Despite some of the difficulties she might face on a daily basis, she remembers these words:

“One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Every day may not be a good day, but there’s something good in every day,’” she said. “Don’t let your obstacles define you. Define your obstacles.”

A lesson to us all — You never know someone’s story until you talk to them. 

Deirryah says despite being a self-proclaimed “lover of all things girly,” she has goals of continuing her career in the hardware industry. She already has taken several courses for certifications and looks forward to taking even more. 

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