Life changing events have a way of putting all things into perspective. As young adults, chasing the American dream at full speed is the norm, until circumstances slow the momentum and change a person, often from the inside out. Marcus and Rachel Hembrey experienced this first hand. As a young couple with two small children and a newborn, the thought that a major medical condition would affect their newborn was unfathomed.
Marcus and Rachel Hembrey met at Arkansas State University- Newport in 2005. “She's the best decision that I ever made,” states Marcus. Rachel is the daughter of Paul and Debbie Meeks. She graduated from Tuckerman High School in 2005 and received a degree as a Physical Therapy Assistant from Arkansas State in 2013. Even though most of Marcus’ family is from Jackson County, he graduated from River Valley High School located in Strawberry in 2003. He is the son of Tom Hembrey and Vera Hendrickson. The couple have three children. They include Lexi, age ten, Hayden, age five, and Maddox, age two.
The couple’s youngest son, Maddox, was born with four congenital heart defects; Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia, Coarctation of the Aorta, and Pulmonary Stenosis. The family was told the only option for Maddox was a heart transplant and quickly. “We asked people to pray for Maddox. The power of prayer worked and he received a heart when he was eight days old,” states Marcus. The people in Jackson County came from all angles to help the family. Marcus and Rachel could not believe the amount of support and love poured out for their family. It was truly a humbling experience.  “The reason we love Jackson County and never want to leave is because of the amount of community support in times of need. My family experienced this first hand.”
Rachel worked for Newport Advanced Physical Therapy when Maddox was born. The diagnosis for Maddox led to the decision for Rachel remain home with their son, leaving her unemployed. “She checked herself out of the hospital just a few short hours after having Maddox and traveled to Arkansas Children's Hospital, never thinking about herself again. When Maddox came home from the hospital, she barely went outside for the next 14 months, making sure we followed the rules of our house to protect him,” Marcus tells with amazement. Maddox is a healthy rambunctious young boy today. The family loves life in Jackson County and hopes their children will do the same. “I pray they love it as much as we do.”
Life has resumed a bit of normalcy these days. Rachel has returned to the workforce and currently works for Pediatric Therapies Inc. in Batesville. When Maddox was born, Marcus was a conductor for Union Pacific Railroad.  It soon began to weigh on his heart the desire to be part of something more focused on helping people. The community had helped them so much. He knew he wanted to do the same.  Marcus took a position with Modern Woodmen. His career permits him to provide for his family in a way that also benefits people. The position undeniably allows him opportunities to contribute resources and support to the betterment of all the people he knows and loves. These are the people of Jackson County.
Marcus and his family are highly visible these days. From sporting events to fundraisers, The Hembreys’ support community.