Never, Ever Give Up.

Never, Ever Give Up.

February 15, 2022 by The Foundation for a Better Life

The incredible story of Jessie Rees, the 12-year-old cancer patient who brings joy to half a million children fighting cancer.

Life can feel terribly unfair. And yet for some people, when life hands them the worst possible circumstance, they are at their absolute best.

Jessie Joy Rees is just such a person. The blonde-haired, California kid with the big personality as fun as a day at the beach became the voice of courage for kids with cancer. How can so much good be packaged in one so small? Athletic and outgoing, Jessie had her whole world in front of her, until she was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in 2011.

Three weeks into her treatment, Jessie asked an uncharacteristically mature question for such a young girl. She looked out at the other children who were also going through cancer treatment and asked her parents: “How can we help them?” Jessie’s heart was bigger than any tumor. She wanted to comfort other kids who were going through treatment; she wanted them to be happy, no matter what. The morning after her diagnoses, Jessie was at the kitchen table assembling bags of toys for other cancer patients. “She was determined to make other cancer kids happy,” her father Erik tenderly remembers. “How could we not help?”

12-year-old Jessie had a 1% chance of beating cancer. So, she decided to make the most of her time. The packages became hospital-safe plastic jars stuffed with toys, crafts and activities to surprise children while they are in the hospital for treatment. Aptly named JoyJars® using Jessie’s middle name, JoyJars contain a little bit of fun during mundane days, but mostly they contain a little bit of Jessie’s optimism that fills the room every time one is opened. One mother sent a tender thank you: “JoyJars have helped lift our spirits during Travis’ ongoing battle with his brain tumor.”

It is a special soul who can radiate so much good in so short a time. Jessie Joy Rees passed away less than a year from her diagnosis. But her parents keep the joy alive. More than 400,000 JoyJars have been delivered to children undergoing cancer treatment in all 50 states and over 50 countries. For each, there is a bit of Joy to help them through the tough times. And to give them courage, there’s also a bracelet stamped with Jessie’s mantra: Never Ever Give Up. “Jessie would never ever give up,” says Erik. “And neither will we. Every child facing cancer should know they are loved and supported.”

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No matter how long or short our lives turn out to be, there is always room for a little joy.  

Never Ever Give Up…

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Your Comments
Mare McAnany & Family from Philadelphia PA FEBRUARY 18, 2022
Jessie's love and inspiration surely lives on in the hearts of all the little ones she touched & continues to touch. This sweet little girl had the heart of an Angel and the unfailing courage of a Lioness. It is our hope & prayer that her parents and all her Family and dear ones who continue to love her eternally have found the strength to move forward with the inspiration and love she shared in her sweet, special life.

Kenneth from Calgary, Canada FEBRUARY 17, 2022
I am admired Jessie's caring heart to other children battling with cancer. Yes, Jessie's HEART was BIGGER than any tumor. As an cancer survivor, I am always give back to cancer research communities. Never, Ever Give Up.

Susan Tenorio from Sac., Ca. FEBRUARY 17, 2022
Such an inspiring, and heartfelt story! We should all try to be more like Jessie. Higher love❤.

Barb Houghton from WASHINGTON FEBRUARY 16, 2022
How wonderful!!! I lost my oldest son to cancer. Although he was fortunate to survive a brain tumor surgery and enjoy a few more years, cancer found him again. He helped a great number of people in a variety of ways and he's still with me every day!

Lisa from Missouri FEBRUARY 15, 2022
What an amazing young lady with a spirit and impact larger than life itself. Thank you for sharing Jessie's story!

Lynise Tarring from Hilo, Hawai'i  FEBRUARY 15, 2022
Thank you Jessie for being who you are and I ask Our Father to continue to Bless you so you can be a rainbow for others.

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