Standing on the large, colorful quilt spread out on the grass in his backyard, Clever resident Jason Hoggett’s smile shows his pleasure in his creation.
“I started out with 3-inch quilt blocks and then I made them bigger and bigger,” Jason said. “I shaped it like Missouri because I’m from Missouri. I like Missouri. I get material from the thrift shop, Goodwill, garage sales and from friends and neighbors. Sometimes I buy a large piece and cut it up. I do quilting everyday. I’ll probably work on it all winter.”
There are more than a thousand panels that make up Jason’s quilt. They are different shapes and sizes. Some are big 2-foot rectangles, some are small 3-inch squares. There are cartoon characters, patterns and stripes and every color imaginable. It covers roughly 2,000 square feet and is beginning to take the shape of the state of Missouri, but it’s nowhere near complete.
“He started making little blocks and it just got bigger and bigger,” his mother Joan Hoggett said. “Then he got the idea to make it the shape of Missouri and go for a world record.”
Jason’s laugh tells everyone how happy the project makes him, without saying a word. One look at the quilt and it’s evident that Jason, who has a learning disability, pours his heart into his hobby.
“This keeps him occupied and it makes him happy,” Joan said. “It’s very important to him and he talks about it and he works on it every single day. It gives him a sense of purpose.”
The project started in 2012 without any goal in mind. First, it was about learning a skill. Then it became a therapeutic outlet. When Jason discovered how much he enjoyed the process, the project evolved into something much larger. And it’s still evolving today.
When the quilt is spread out in the Hoggett’s backyard, it covers nearly all the available space between the trees and fences. The quilt weighs approximately 200 pounds, and when folded up, it spills out of the 33-gallon trash can Jason uses to store and move it. His goal now is to make it 10 times larger.
“I’m proud of it,” Jason said. “It makes me happy. I want to reach that goal.”
He started making 3-inch quilt blocks at the Southwest Center for Independent Living in Springfield where he goes a couple times a week. He also makes stuffed animals, bibs, aprons, chair covers and hand lotions.
“I had no idea it would grow into the size and shape it is now,” Joan said. “I thought he would get tired of it. I’m really happy for him that he’s worked so hard trying to reach his goal.”
Jason, 36, was born in Monett and graduated from Monett High School in 1998, where he took special education classes. He moved to Clever with his parents in 2000. Shortly after moving to Christian County, Jason had an accident that forever changed him.
On a hot day in 2001, he got overheated, passed out, fell and hit his head on concrete. He was in a coma for two weeks. The medical team wasn’t sure about the damage and prepared the Hoggetts for the worst.
“They told me when he woke up that he might be like a vegetable,” Joan said. “When he first came out of the coma, all he could do was shake his head yes or no. He didn’t remember the accident at all. It took him a while to get to where he could talk and now he has trouble talking because he gets in a hurry. He can’t get his words out and say what he wants to say.”
As an adult, Jason has worked several jobs — Price Cutter, McDonald’s and a nursing home — but since the accident, he can no longer work.
“Since I got disabled I haven’t worked a lot,” Jason said. “Now I just make my quilt. That’s my hobby. I have a speech problem, if I slow down, people probably understand me better. There are all kinds of disabilities. I have a speech problem. That’s just part of life.”
He embraces his disability — he owns it — it’s not something he’s embarrassed or shy about. He knows very well who he is and he takes on challenges full force.
“I believe in not keeping things secret just because he’s disabled,” Jason’s father John Hoggett said. “I don’t think it’s anything you should hide, that’s part of it. If you care for your kids, I think that’s the way it should be. I think if a person is disabled, I think they shouldn’t worry about it and just go on living. Things like that are a part of life. We just let him do his thing. We try to make the best out of life.”
And Jason makes the best of life by sewing one panel after another to his already larger-than-life quilt.