About six months ago, I wrote a post about loving to provide kids with the opportunity to make a difference through their own efforts. The post featured my daughter’s participation in Relay for Life. And it was at the Costa Mesa’s 2011 Relay for Life that we saw Jessica Joy Rees for the first time. Jessica (Jessie) had recently been diagnosed with brain cancer. She was the same age as the girls I had with me.
Several months after that, my Facebook friend and one of the Costa Mesa Relay’s organizers, Robin, posted a link to Jessie’s own page where she was quickly gaining fans to help spread her message of NEGU – Never Ever Give Up. As an advocate of kids making a difference, I fanned her page and was rewarded on a daily basis with updates about her condition, support she received from her friends and her family. And about how with two brain tumors and chemo, this kid was out to make a difference in the 50,000+ lives of the pediatric cancer patients in this country. She and her parents had started the NEGU Foundation (Never Ever Give Up) in an effort to raise money for Jessie’s Joy Jars. These Joy Jars come with a NEGU t-shirt and can be filled with all sorts of goodies – things to do at the hospital. Things that let these kids know that someone cares.
Jessie’s amazing vision and her dedication inspired numerous people locally and worldwide. Fans to her page span the globe. Eva Longoria spent an afternoon with Jessie, filling Joy Jars. Local news featured her story and linked to her page. John Tesh signed on to do a benefit concert for NEGU at the St. Regis(later this month). Momentum was building. And Jessie and her dad challanged her Facebook fans to help build her fan base from the 20,000+ she has to 50,000+ this year – one person for every pediatric cancer patient.
Yesterday Jessie’s parents posted the very sad news that Jessie had lost her battle with cancer. The outpouring on her page has been incredible. And her fans honored her by reaching out and asking people to fan her page in hopes of helping her reach the goal she made. The result? By the time I went to bed last night, the goal had been met – over 30,000 people fanned her page in the last 24 hours.
And now the real work – turning those fans into workers, completing Jessie’s real task. Putting 50,000 Joy Jars in 50,000 little hands. Check out the site (it has been inundated in the last day, it might be hard getting on – bookmark it and come back!) and see how you can help. Become a fan. Buy a Joy Jar. Become a corporate sponsor. If you are a store, hold a Joy Jar day and work with the organization to fill jars at your store one day. If you work with a group that wants community hours, have them contact NEGU to fill joy jars! If you are a manufacturer and have closeout product, donate to the Joy Jars. So many great ways to become involved and share the Joy. Thank you, Jessie, for the world of difference you have made! NEGU!