- Posted August 14, 2013 by
Team iReport featured this story
- Jareen, CNN iReport producer
This is the story of the Jones family. Theirs is a story of hope in the face of tragedy, and courage in the midst of excruciating pain. It is a remarkable testament to love, to faith and an unequivocal desire to persevere in the face of relentless struggles.
Two years ago, Brian and Jenny Jones celebrated a milestone in their marriage, their ten year anniversary. As they celebrated with their family and friends, they looked forward to happiness in the next chapter of their lives.
The very next day, their beautiful 2 year old little boy, Lincoln, was diagnosed with cancer. More specifically, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Their world would change forever.
Just days before, Lincoln was your typical 2 year old. He was full of life and excited about everything. Brian described his smile as being “a mile wide with dimples that couldn’t be missed”. He was enjoying spending the summer with his big sister, Emma, who taught him how to find lady bugs and worms. He had a boyish courage about him and loved to play the hero, fending off the bad guys.
With the dark cloud of this tragic news looming over them, the Jones’ mustered every bit of strength in them, and along with a wide system of support, they began their journey.
Lincoln was given a prognosis of 85-90% survival over 5 years. Brian and Jenny were needless to say, devastated, but prepared themselves to begin what would be an intense treatment plan. After a few months of chemotherapy, Lincoln lost all of his hair. Brian says that the process was “beyond anything imaginable, from watching him suffer and swell, to the side effects of the steroids”. Brian and Jenny catered to his every need.
Lincoln stayed strong. He wouldn’t let the cancer rob him of being a boisterous toddler. He always wanted to “play like a boy, even when tethered to an IV, he still played super heroes, and looked forward to seeing his Chemo pal, Dustin”.
Like most kids, Lincoln wanted to go to Disney Land, and last year the Make a Wish Foundation gave him that chance. He was thrilled. With Mom and Dad and an ecstatic sister in tow, along with his grandparents, they began their journey from Oregon to California. With the Magic Kingdom in their sights, a sense of refreshment and peace fell over them.
The family spent a fun filled day, soaking in the all of the joys that Disney has to offer. They were having a fantastic time. Exhausted from the activity filled day, they retired for the night. Rain fell that evening, and their magical adventure took a sudden turn, their lives would once again be forever altered.
Brian and Jenny were suddenly awoken during the night. Something was wrong, but this time, it wasn’t with Lincoln. Jenny’s mother, Mary, called. Grandpa Bob was having a heart attack. Pastor Bob Swope would not make it to see their final day at Disney, and passed away before morning. He was 60 years old.
Devastated with shock and unbelievable grief, the family struggled through their final day at the park, refusing to ruin a little boy’s wish. They left their final day early, having to explain to their young children that grandpa wouldn’t be coming home with them.
“Our faith was shaken to the core”, Brian says.
Reeling with grief, and still enduring the ongoing struggle of Lincoln’s illness, Brian decided that he would not stand idly by. He decided that he wanted to do more than he had ever done before to help kids with cancer.
Run to the White House for Childhood Cancer Awareness
Brian was compelled to raise awareness 365 days of the year for children and families who were in similar situations. September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness month, but in January he started running as a way to show his commitment to the cause. He would band together with others and log miles via social media to collectively run the equivalent distance from his home in Oregon, to the steps of the White House, 2844 miles.
The Jones’ friends quickly joined the cause, and almost immediately there were 25 people running with him. This number quickly grew to over 300 people actively participating, and soon mushroomed to over 3000 people and rising.
Many people chose to call out team names dedicated to children in active treatment or who have passed on, and while they may be running for many different people, they’re all running for one reason, to fight childhood cancer. Together, they are nearing 200,000 miles reaching for an ultimate goal of a quarter million. Brian asked those actively involved if they wanted running shirts made, the response was overwhelming, branding the virtual run the “Follow Me” movement.
On Sunday, September 1, Brian will run the final distance to the White House with people who will join him in Virginia and Washington to complete this years event. He and other participants, will gather at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, and together make their way to the White House to take a stand and let the government know that kids like his need more, and that the threat of childhood cancer needs to be eliminated.
The Jones’ also have a message to others who are going through similar circumstances. “Never lose hope; there is a community that supports those who will face the unimaginable”.
Lincoln is now doing well. His hair has regrown, and he has had little more than an ear infection once or twice since completing his treatment. While the Jones’ are thrilled by his improvement, the fight will not cease.
“When your child's life is threatened by anything, a person or a disease, you go to war and finish the fight,” said Brian. He also added that “life shouldn’t be interrupted by childhood cancer”.
While the battle against pediatric cancers continues, Brian, his family and those who are in the "Run for the White House for Childhood Cancer" will emerge without fear, and will continue on to fight the war. He hopes that others will step up, step forward, and join him in the fight.
Join the Virtual Event wherever you are @ "Run for the White House for Childhood Cancer Awareness"