Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Jars of Joy

I remember hearing about Jessie. It was all over Facebook and the news. Her passing was January 5th, just days before my son's fourth birthday.

The following year just before he turned five, we were back in the hospital for my son’s 13th brain
surgery. A hospital is the worst place to get rest, and in between doctor’s checks and wondering when we would be moved form ICU to Pediatrics, he received a JoyJar®. I kept looking at it and wondering why it seemed familiar to me. It seemed like a great idea: a cute jar filled with toys and items that might comfort a child in the hospital. 

It was January 5th.

Then I remembered, and I wept. I wept for my child who had had his skull and body sliced open yet again. I wept in gratitude for his survival and the amazing neurosurgery team that continues to save him. I wept for Jessie Joy Rees and her family’s loss. And I wept in gratitude for the vision Jessie had and her fortuitous middle name.

* * * *

NEGU.  Never Ever Give Up. This is what Jessie's legacy created. 

Recently I had the opportunity to participate with Moms L.A. to help fill and package JoyJars®. It was a chance I could not pass up. Max Page, a heart patient and child actor currently on CBS' The Young & The Restless, is best known as 'Little Darth Vader' on a Volkswagon commercial.

Max has a goal. No, a mission. Despite and because of his own condition, Max plans to fill 100, 000 JoyJars® and get them to hospitalized and homebound children.  His goal for this holiday season is 10,000, some of which we were able to fill that day.

That beautiful day offered me no traffic on the way to CBS, and I arrived right on time. Max, his mother Jennifer and some of the show’s cast and crew gathered around a table in the CBS executive boardroom to fill jars. The word heartwarming almost seems cliché to use, but it certainly fits watching Max’s colleagues assist. I was also joined by Moms L.A. co-founder, Sarah Auerswald.

I was humbled to meet Jessie's mother Stacy, and a couple of other moms who had had babies in the NICU. That is an experience I wish on no one. Having a child go through life threatening illness and/or surgeries is brutal. It was my true pleasure to help fill these jars and meet these ladies. 

Max's mom Jennifer speaks about her experiences with Max's heart condition.

You too can help Max reach his goal!

Jessie's hard fought battle against two brain tumors lasted 10 months, during which she created JoyJars® and NEGU. The mission of the Jessie Rees Foundation is to ensure every child fighting cancer has the resources and support to Never Ever Give Up!

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