I have a story to share with you... This story is not mine... This story is bigger... This story is about love, strength, drive, trust, and about believing!!! This story is full of LIFE & HOPE and most importantly; this story continues!
This story belongs to my friend Jake!
Jake and I attended the Collegiate School from kindergarten through high school graduation. Our class was full of incredible people who had the privilege of walking alongside Jake though the early years of his journey with Cystic Fibrosis (CF).
Jakes Mother and Grandmother noticed a few things that were not quite normal for new born in 1985. So at six weeks of age; Jake was taken into the hospital and very quickly diagnosed With CF.
CF. is a genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system. The year that Jake was born... Doctors had told his family that the average life expectancy was 11 years old. Jake's mom did no accept this as her sons story. She was determined to help her son beat this disease and live a full life through a healthy lifestyle of clean food, exorcise, and medication.
Fast forward to 1993 when Jake was 8 years old and in the Third grade at Collegiate. He had been in and out of the hospital his entire life for treatment (Sometimes for three to four weeks at a time) and he really started to grasp the magnitude of this disease that he was fighting. Jake asked his mother "Mom... am I going to die from this?" She said No! "We are going to keep fighting, we are going to beat this disease, and you will be cured!" (you gotta love the passion :)
As his classmates... we always new that Jake had an illness that caused him to cough more than normal and would sometimes cause him to miss school. However something really wonderful took place years later in middle school. I believe we were in the Seventh or Eighth grade. Jake had been in the hospital for several weeks. One of our guidance counselors received permission from Jake and his mom to share with the class what was going on.
The Teachers gathered our entire class (about one hundred and fifteen of us) and sat us down to explain what Cystic Fibrosis is. They also prepared us that there was a chance that Jake may not be able to make it to graduation which was five years down the road (The average life expectancy at the time was hovering around twenty). I remember learning that day something new about my classmate that gave each one of us a soft spot in our hearts for Jake. Through the listening and processing of Jakes story the preciousness of life was made more concrete to all of us that day.
Fast forward to today. It has been 19 years since we graduated and I am sitting in Blanchards Coffee shop across from Jake. We have spent several hours talking and laughing as we tell past stories of our Thirteen years at Collegiate and the nineteen years that have passed since our graduation. There are several times that my jaw is dropped as he tells me about his life. Jake didn't just go on to live a "normal life" Remember earlier when his mom said he would live a full life... He has! Jake took his talents in track and field to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) where he became a decathlete and his senior year was ranked sixth in the entire Colonial Athletic Association! Jake has also grown to become an accomplished nurse at Chippenham Medical Center where he is a leader in his unit. This is also the the same hospital that his mom is employed and they remain very close and get to have lunch together on a regular basis. On top of this... Jakes Health is strong. Jake was recently given a new drug that the entire Cystic Fibrosis world is raving about. This drug is called Trikafta and it is a giant step towards a cure. Jake's lung capacity is consistently improving at the age of Thirty Seven! It is because of organizations like the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the people that support it that someone like Jake can life a full life!
Jake we are super proud of you my friend. Thank you for being an inspiration!
I have been given the honor by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to help raise money to help the Foundation realize its mission of controlling and curing Cystic Fibrosis.
Your generous gift will be used efficiently and effectively to help support vital CF research, medical and education programs.
There is a little bit of a friendly competition amongst the Honorees to see who can raise the most money for the organization. Up until now no honoree in Richmond has been able to raise over $15,000 before the Brewers Ball in early June. I mentioned this to Jake and his immediate response was "LETS CRUSH THAT".
Please make a donation and please purchase tickets to the Brewers Ball that takes place on Thursday June 9th at the Science Museum of Virginia.
Jake and his Mom will be there!
Thank you so much,