Reporting Kristine Sorensen
KITTANNING (KDKA) — The reality show “Undercover Boss” recently held a national contest for bosses to nominate their star employee to win a $10,000 bonus with another $10,000 going to the boss’s charity of choice.
And it turns out the winner, Jessica Wynkoop, lives right here in our area. She’s from Kittanning.
KDKA’s Kristine Sorensen presented Wynkoop and her boss with their checks and learned the inspiring story of why she is so deserving.
Jessica and Cody Wynkoop fell in love right after high school and married soon after Cody returned from serving in Iraq for the Air Force.
Over the last 10 years, they had a son – named Mason who is now 4-years-old – and Jessica became the manager at the AT&T store in Kittanning.
But life changed dramatically a year and a half ago.
“He hit a sheet of black ice in last winter; it threw him off the road and into a tree,” said Jessica.
Cody was paralyzed from the chest down and suffered a brain injury.
“It’s changed everything about me,” said Cody. “It’s hard to even talk about. Jess has been there by my side the whole time. She’s a good wife… and no matter whatever happens between us, I’ll always love her.”
Jessica now cares for not only the couple’s young son, but also her husband as he needs help now doing just about everything.
“It’s been rough,” she says. “It’s a full time job whenever I come home from my job. You have to assist him in bathing, getting food, everything, getting dressed, getting in and out of the car is a chore.”
Jessica’s also now the sole breadwinner, managing the AT&T store in town, which is a natural fit for her sparkly personality.
“Everybody knows me by name, knows Cody, asks how he’s doing,” says Jessica. “I love my customers at work. They get me through the day some days.”
Jessica puts on a brave face, remains positive and says she’s committed to Cody.
“I wasn’t willing to put him in nursing home the rest of his life,” Jessica said. “And if he wasn’t with me, and I wasn’t taking care of him, that’s where he’d be. So, it was just something I had to give up for him to have a half normal life.”
Cody understands and appreciates his wife’s devotion.
“You can just tell… she’s a good person,” he said. “She sounds like an angel, huh? She is an angel. Mine.”
Jessica’s boss, Travis Seidel, the district manager for Prime Communications, nominated Jessica, inspired by her unconditional love and knowing she needed the money for all of their unplanned expenses like a sidewalk for Cody’s wheelchair.
Seidel chose St. Jude Children’s Hospital for his $10,000 donation.