I’m honored to be part of the launch team for Never Ever Give Up: The Inspiring Story of Jessie and Her JoyJars by Eric Rees and Jenna Glatzer. September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness month, so it is perfect timing for this wonderful book’s release. Never Ever Give Up is the story of Jessie Rees and her ten-month battle with cancer. It is the story of a father’s love. It is the story of a family’s heartbreak. But, it is also a story of love and hope, filled with many lessons on living.
Jessie’s family was blindsided by the devastating diagnosis that Jessie had inoperable, incurable, aggressive brain cancer. Only eleven years old at the time of her diagnosis, Jessie was seemingly healthy one day, and then stunningly sick the next. Never Ever Give Up tells how the family handled this news and how they made the most of the time Jessie had left. Theirs is a story of faith, struggle, and courage, and it is both tragic and encouraging.
Jessie’s dad poignantly shares his daughter’s story as he recounts her immediate desire to help others. She wanted to share joy with other kids who were battling cancer even before she had her first treatment. Coming home from being fitted for her radiation mask, Jessie immediately began making goodie bags to take back to the hospital. Her generous heart and her feeling that she was “lucky” was a turning point for her family, and they began to look at each day they had together as a good day.
And so, JoyJars was born out of Jessie’s desire to love on all the other kids who were battling cancer. Thousands of JoyJars have now been distributed around the world.
Never Ever Give Up (NEGU), Jessie’s motto, shows how Jessie lived. One of her favorite verses was Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord you God will be with you wherever you go.”
Jessie’s example teaches us to not only be strong and courageous, but also to take action, show compassion, and do things to help others. What a wise little girl she was!
To find out more about JoyJars and the NEGU movement, visit their website at www.jessie.org.