Jessie Rees Foundation | Encouraging Kids Fighting Cancer to Never Ever Give Up
Jessie Rees Foundation is all about giving "CARE" to each child and family. We will care until there is a cure. Help us care for and encourage every child. Ensuring every kid & family impacted by childhood cancer has the support & resources to Never Ever Give Up!
William appears to be a typical 16 year old in many ways, attending high school, learning to drive, playing a lot of video games and hanging out with his friends. But, he’s not your typical 16 year old kid, he is currently battling Acute Myeloid Leukemia. So currently, William isn’t having the same teenager experience as most boys his age. William is fighting hard and determined to win his battle with Leukemia.
Over the course of just 3 days in October of 2018, William went from a 16 year old on a trip with his Mom to visit family, to being really tired, finding a bruise on his foot that appeared to be infected, and just hours later, getting a Leukemia diagnosis.
It was a whirlwind, the doctors immediately started William on chemotherapy the morning after he was diagnosed. Following this diagnosis, William and his mom didn’t leave Diamond Children’s Hospital in Tucson for 32 days.
William is determined to beat Leukemia and is fighting very hard to be a typical teenager again.
The Jessie Rees Foundation encourages kids and families facing cancer, like William and his family, to Never Ever Give Up through ClubNEGU, where they receive doses of hope, joy and love each month.
At just 12 years old, Jessie knew that sending love, hope and a little fun in her JoyJars® could help create lasting memories and bring a smile to a child and their family on those difficult days as they fight cancer together. Her wish was to encourage every kid fighting cancer to Never Ever Give Up.
We are honored to encourage and support William as he battles Leukemia.
My Jessie Journal: Hi Sweet Pea, it’s daddy! How are you? What are you up to these days? How is Heaven? I so wish you could answer those questions for me so I could know “really” how you are doing. I’m doing good. Last week, I wasn’t doing great due to the food poisoning mommy, Shaya and I all got. There was actually eight of us who ate some sub sandwiches together and all ended up sick within hours of each other.
Well enough about my three days of yuck! Let’s talk about some great stuff. Like your amazing elementary school Melinda Heights doing another school wide JoyDrive last week and collecting thousands of incredible toys for JoyJars. You have left such a lasting legacy at that school Jess. Just think of all of the kids over the last seven years that have been given the opportunity to learn about kindness and give back. So great!!! I love this picture of you and I when you were there and doing one of school plays. Miss those days so much!!!
Another great thing happened two days ago. We held our first ever live radio fundraiser for JoyJars. Guess what it was called? A Day of Joy!!! How perfect is that? I have to be honest, I was nervous about trying because I didn’t really know if giving people the chance to daily #250 on the cell phones and say “JoyJars” would work as a way to raise funds. Happy to report it did=). We raised close to $15,000…yeah Jessie!!! I guess I should not have doubted the generosity of people even if they had never heard about you or JoyJars. I’m going to be traveling to Dallas in two weeks to help develop a strategy to do more of these radio campaigns.
Jess, as you now this weekend is Father’s Day and will be one of these days that I try to just get through while still making myself present for Shaya and JT. My number one goal is life was to be the best father I could be and while it still is my life goal…having you in Heaven instead of here just sucks!!! I miss you so much and thinking about you many times a day. I’m forever thankful for the twelve years I did have with you on earth and I’m so proud of the person you choose to be during that short time. I just miss you so much!!!
At the Jessie Rees Foundation we are thankful to be able to introduce thousands of people to our mission, raise over 3 million dollars a year, and make an impact helping kids fighting cancer to Never Ever Give Up. This is in large part due to the efforts and dedication of the over 13,000 amazing volunteers we have annually. The Jessie Rees Foundation has delivered more than 260,000 JoyJars® to kids around the world. None of which would be possible without the help of our incredible volunteers, just like Suzy.
Suzy first heard about the Jessie Rees Foundation from a friend on Instagram. She was immediately interested and started learning more about Jessie and the Rees family by reading Erik’s book, “Never Ever Give up: The Inspiring Story of Jessie and her JoyJars”. Suzi told us, “I was so touched and impressed and contacted Kristy (Volunteer Manager) the next day to see how I could help. I started volunteering the following week and am so honored to be a part of this amazing organization!”
It has been 4 years since Suzy first began volunteering, and she tells us that the Jessie Rees Foundation has become very special to her. “As a retired elementary school teacher, I was definitely looking for an opportunity to work for/with children. I love the fact that the JRF centers on CARE. After many years of providing encouragement and support in the classroom, it brings me so much joy to be able to give encouragement and support to children/families impacted by childhood cancer.”
To Suzy, Jessie’s NEGU: Never Ever Give Up message is a universal message of encouragement – a valuable reminder to kids and families fighting the battle of cancer to Never Ever Give Up hope. “I strongly feel that hope sustains us in our most difficult moments.” She said,when her mom was battling cancer, Never Ever Giving Up hope was what kept her family going until the very end. “I also believe that we should Never Ever Give Up… caring, loving, giving, helping, sharing, learning, and encouraging every day in all that we do. I am so proud to be part of the NEGU Team!”
There have been many wonderful memories made by Suzy in her 4 years of volunteering, from stuffing individual JoyJars®, Birthday JoyJars and Sibling Packs, to working the annual NEGU Golf Classic and Jessie’s Birthday Celebrations, even tying blankets and counting toys. She tells us, “All have been special, but I think actually meeting and interacting with Courageous Kids and their families at the Joy Factory or special events has been the highlight for me.”
Suzy said,“The Jessie Rees Foundation is truly like family. Erik and Stacey are warm and welcoming and regularly check in with everyone to chat and show their appreciation. The JRF staff and other volunteers have become friends. It truly takes a village and what a village we have!!!”
We are so thankful for dedicated volunteers like Suzy who devote time each week to volunteer to help kids fighting cancer Never Ever Give Up! If you would like to get involved with the Jessie Rees Foundation, you can learn more here!
May is distinguished nationally as Brain Cancer Awareness Month. According to the American Brain Tumor Association, about 28,000 kids in the United States are currently fighting some type of brain cancer. This month especially, we honor Jessie and her selfless care for others while she bravely fought two brain tumors (DIPG) from March 3, 2011 to January 5, 2012.
The Jessie Rees Foundation was, and always will be, inspired by Jessie – one courageous and compassionate 12-year old little girl.
As Jessie faced brain cancer, all she wanted to do was help brighten the day of her peers who were unable to leave the hospital. This desire to help, led to the creation of her fun-filled JoyJars®, and her NEGU® (Never Ever Give Up) message and motto.
Jessie stuffed more than 3,000 JoyJars during her ten month and two day fight with cancer, and inspired thousands on Facebook with her daily posts to NEGU. The mission of her legacy, the Jessie Rees Foundation, is to help every kid fighting cancer to Never Ever Give Up! We work to fulfill this mission every day by connecting with families facing cancer, bringing awareness to their stories, offering them a network of helpful resources and sending the entire family continual doses of encouragement throughout their journey. We will CARE until there is a CURE.
Jessie's Story - How it all started! - YouTube
Stay connected with the Jessie Rees Foundation on Facebook and Instagram as we work to care for and encourage Courageous Kids fighting cancer to Never Ever Give Up!
We NEGU for all Courageous fighters around the world!
My Jessie Journal:: Hi Sweet Pea, it’s daddy! I just got home from four days in New Jersey working with this super compassionate company that wants to stuff JoyJars with their employees this year. During all of the meetings people talked about how they loved JoyJars and were so thankful to be able to stuff them. Yesterday during a lunch with one of the leaders, I was asked…“Tell me about Jessie”. There I was crying into my lunch as I shared about your love for church, school, swimming, friends and ultimately those kids that couldn’t leave the hospital. I shared about how you loved collecting those tiny bottles of catchup and other sauces from hotel rooms. You were so fascinated by how small they were. I’m so proud to be your daddy Jess!!!
I sure wish I could get a note from you and you could tell me the things you are doing in Heaven. It would be so great if there was a way to send notes to each other=). That’s just a daddy’s heart longing to hear, touch, and laugh with his Sweet Pea. Someday…someday!!!
Mommy and Shaya are in San Diego today and tomorrow at a conference for nurses. They will be sharing about JoyJars and all of our programs in hopes we can reach more kids fighting cancer and encourage them to Never Ever Give Up! They love talking about you too.
Sunday will be a hard day for mommy due to Mother’s Day…it’s one of those days that you stay strong for Shaya and JT but inside you soul cries out. I love this picture of you two. It reminds me of how mommy NEVER left your side for those ten months and two days. She was always there for you. She misses you so much Jess. If you can, please visit her in her dreams. I know she would love that.
Time to take JT to school.
Miss you so much…love you tons more…see you in a wink! Promise!!!
When 4 year old Aryia receives a package in the mail, she is super excited when she sees the box and knows exactly what it is – a boost of JOY from the Jessie Rees Foundation!
JoyJars® are delivered to Aryia as part of ClubNEGU, the Jessie Rees Foundation’s free program for kids fighting cancer and their families. Aryia was diagnosed in 2018 with neuroblastoma.
Despite her cancer diagnosis, Aryia is a smart, vibrant 4-year-old little girl with a kind heart and a huge imagination. Whether it’s fighting crime as a superhero, playing princess, or digging up dinosaur bones, Aryia is always ready for life’s next adventure. Her kindness shows as she selflessly shares all the toys in her JoyJars with her brother – their favorite toy being a whoopi cushion.
Aryia has endured 6 rounds of chemotherapy, a surgery to remove most of her tumor, and other procedures including a round of stem cell transplants. Her mom says, “Aryia is our little warrior. On February 11, we were told she was NED (No evidence of disease). As a part of her treatment she is now going through a 2nd stem cell transplant.”
To Aryia and her family, NEGU means to “Keep fighting even when you’re having the worst day and you feel like you don’t want to do anything; you keep going.”
Her mom says, “The JoyJars help make a bad day into a good day. We also received a Christmas donation that helped us have family fun together, which is very important to us. It’s hard when you have to factor in all the new expenses, especially with our work schedule changed from full time to part time.”
Aryia’s family has the iNEGU app on their cell phone for daily encouragement, and loves the inspirational messages from everyone each day.
Aryia is just one of the thousands of ClubNEGU kids we at the Jessie Rees Foundation are honored to support. As kids and their families battle cancer together, we know that sending love, hope and a little fun can help create lasting memories and bring a smile to a child on a difficult day.
At the 8th Annual NEGU Gala: A Celebration of Courageous Smiles!, 46 Courageous Kids and their families were in attendance and encouraged to NEVER EVER GIVE UP throughout the evening. One of those Courageous Kids was Aaron!
Aaron was excited and happy to hear that he was invited to the Gala. His mom says the event “was truly priceless. Aaron loved receiving his Jessie award! To him it was like winning an Oscar.” Aaron keeps his award right next to his bed. His parents asked if they could keep it in the living room and he said no, because he likes looking at it every night.
His mom told us that she loved “being at the Gala and seeing so many children and parents that Jessie’s life has touched including ours.” She added, “We also loved going to Disneyland with the family since it was our first time going on a trip since he was diagnosed on June 8, 2018.”
For Aaron, NEGU means he is strong, courageous, special and loved. He has felt that way ever since he’s been receiving JoyJars® and other ClubNEGU boosts of encouragement.
Aaron’s Mom said,“NEGU has really made this whole journey memorable, supportive and blessed. Thank you to everyone who makes NEGU so special for kids like Aaron and families like ours. For my family NEGU gave us the opportunity to create priceless memories. It also showed us we are not alone and to Never Ever Give Up! Thanks to Jessie’s Family for being so inspirational.”
Aaron is just one of the thousands of ClubNEGU kids we at the Jessie Rees Foundation are honored to support. As kids and families battle cancer together, we know that sending love, hope and a little fun can bring a smile to a child on a difficult day.
Courageous Kids fighting cancer are brave. We are honored to encourage them daily through our ClubNEGU program. ClubNEGU is free for all Courageous Kids, their Super Sibs and parents. Each ClubNEGU family receives fun doses of hope, joy and love each month.
In 2018, ClubNEGU Courageous Kid, Levi was diagnosed with ALL B cell Leukemia at age 7.
It has been difficult for the entire family. Levi’s mom says, “We try and keep life as normal as possible for all 4 children even though we are exhausted. We are stressed beyond measure but we manage to overcome any obstacle for our children.”
Levi’s mom told us, the ClubNEGU program has made “a world of difference to families, whether its sending jars of goodies, or sending gift cards and they include all children so no one is left out. We fight this battle together and we will never ever give up!!”
When Levi received his JoyJar in the mail, Mom said he had the “Biggest smile on his face and he shared it with his siblings” The surprise JoyJars® he has gotten have helped put a smile on Levi’s face as he fights cancer, “He was really excited about the one he got on his birthday.” We look forward to delivering many more smiles to Levi and his family.
Caring and compassionate volunteers like Kerry, are the heart and soul of the Jessie Rees Foundation. We are so thankful for all of our volunteers who put so much time, effort and care into helping Courageous Kids fighting cancer Never Ever Give Up.
Kerry is one of our incredible volunteers. She first heard about the Jessie Rees Foundation (JRF) on the news. Touched by Jessie’s story, she then read Erik Rees’s book about Jessie’s journey and knew she wanted to do something to help!
Kerry has been a dedicated volunteer for 4 years now. Kerry says, “Volunteering is very important to me. I was an elementary school teacher for 39 years and I love children. When I retired in June of 2014, I wanted to continue doing something to help kids and working at the JoyFactory has been a perfect fit for me. I love volunteering- it’s very fulfilling!”
Kerry told us Jessie’s NEGU motto means, “staying positive and never giving up hope no matter what obstacles you’re faced with!” She said, “My favorite memory is probably of the first JoyJar I ever stuffed nearly 4 years ago. Since then I have helped out in the JoyFactory doing many different tasks, but my favorite job has always been stuffing the individual JoyJars® that are sent to the children’s homes to hopefully brighten their day. Kerry added, “Everyone is so friendly and welcoming! I have met so many nice people there and look forward to going each week.”
At the Jessie Rees Foundation we introduce thousands of people to our mission, raise over 3 million dollars a year, and make an impact helping kids fighting cancer Never Ever Give Up. This is in large part due to the efforts and dedication of the over 13,000 volunteers we have annually. The Jessie Rees Foundation has delivered more than 260,000 JoyJars® to kids around the world. None of this would be possible without the help of our incredible volunteers.
We are so thankful for volunteers like Kerry who dedicate time each week to volunteer to help kids fighting cancer Never Ever Give Up! If you would like to get involved with the Jessie Rees Foundation, you can learn more here!
When you gather together good people for a good cause, it’s an uplifting experience for all! The folks at CISCO, (San Diego, Irvine and Glendale locations) and 6 of CISCO’s corporate partners, raised funds to host a Mobile JoyFactory event benefitting kids fighting cancer and their families via the Jessie Rees Foundation (JRF).
Through the work of “Connected Women at CISCO” at the 3 locations, the group raised over $25,000, including a match donation from CISCO HQ. There were 125 employees and Cisco corporate partners who participated on the day of the Mobile JoyFactory event, and 700 fun-filled JoyJars were stuffed with toys, games and activities for Courageous Kids fighting cancer! In addition, inspirational and uplifting notes were written, called “Care Cards” to encourage kids to “NEGU” or Never Ever Give Up in their cancer battle.
What is a Mobile JoyFactory event? The Mobile JoyFactory is a national and global corporate engagement opportunity for compassionate companies and their employees. A company can host a Mobile JoyFactory event for their employees to make JoyJars® for Courageous Kids in the community and beyond. The CISCO teams event took place at their Irvine location.
Karla Rivera, CISCO World Wide Sales Business Development Leader thanked the CISCO employees saying, “On behalf of Cisco SoCal Connected Women, an emphatic thank you for your donations and participation in the 2nd annual Cisco CW JoyJars SoCal Holiday Give Back Event bringing joy and hope to children battling cancer. Our shared values of generosity, compassion, and kindness to our community continue to bind our strong relationships with customers, partners, our community, and each other.”
The Jessie Rees Foundation was inspired by Jessie Joy Rees, a courageous and compassionate little girl better known as “Jessie”. Jessie was a faith-filled, beautiful, athletic, caring and loving twelve year-old who courageously fought two brain tumors (DIPG) from March 3, 2011 to January 5, 2012.
Help spread joy to kids fighting cancer. Spread Jessie’s message to encourage every kid fighting cancer to Never Ever Give Up. Find out more about hosting a Mobile JoyFactory event at your company. Visit: www.negu.org/mobilejoyfactory
CISCO teams with Holiday Spirit, stuffing JoyJars® in support of Courageous Kids.
The Jessie Rees Foundation brought the Mobile JoyFactory to CISCO in Irvine, with Cisco team members and corporate partners participating.
Care Cards of encouragement for kids fighting cancer.