It started with a simple question: How can we help them? It became an international movement called NEGU: Never Ever Give Up. When Jessica Joy Rees was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor at age 11, she chose to focus not on herself but on bringing joy and hope to other children suffering from cancer.
During the ten months she battled cancer, she and her family worked in the “Joy Factory” (originally their garage) making JoyJars®—packages filled with toys, games, and love for other kids with cancer. Jessie first handed them out personally at the hospital where she was being treated, but the effort blossomed quickly and there were soon thousands of JoyJars® being distributed across the United States and to over fifteen countries. Today, more than 100,000 kids have received JoyJars®, and they continue shipping each week to kids in over 200 children’s hospitals and 175 Ronald McDonald Houses.
Jessie lost her battle with cancer in January 2012, but her message lives on in the Jessie Rees Foundation, which has become a beacon of hope for families fighting pediatric cancer.
Join the movement at www.negu.org.
Oh my goodness. What an incredible, heartbreaking, and inspiring story. I was crying in the very first chapter. My daughter is 11 years old, and I couldn’t help but put myself in the writer’s shoes as I read his story of being told that his sweet 11-year old girl had an inoperable brain tumor. Very well written, this true story tells of Jessie and her battle with cancer. She had an extremely rare form of cancer, and the odds were desperately stacked against her. Instead of wallowing in self-pity because she was sick, she chose to help others, and in doing so, she brought joy to herself, and to thousands of others. She invented the “Joy Jars”, jars filled with gifts and fun stuff. She became well known in her community after a news story was aired about her Joy Jars, and still her story spread. Erik Reese, the author, is Jessie’s father, and he tells the story only the way a parent can. It is heartfelt and heartbreaking. It is inspiring and devastating. He chronicled the last 9 months of his sweet daughter’s life, and it’s just so raw, so tender. The chapter in which he tells of her death haunts me, and yet it reminds me to hug my own children, and to share with them what Jessie taught so many: NEGU, or in other words, Never Ever Give Up. What a message!
I’m giving this book 5 stars. I loved it, and I became inspired to join the movement. If you want to know more of Jessie’s story, or what the foundation in her name does, you can follow the foundation’s page on facebook. The beginning of the timeline on that page is full of notes from Jessie herself. You can GO HERE to like their page.
Many thanks to Handlebar Publishing for providing me with a copy of the book. All opinions are mine and mine alone. No monetary compensation was received, nor was I required to leave a positive review. I received a free copy of the book, Never Ever Give Up in exchange for my honest opinion.