Early on, when I began the work of Hope Matters, I had an insatiable desire to do more. One cancer survivor kiddingly told me, “stop running around with your pants on fire!” But I couldn’t. You see, when my best friend was diagnosed with cancer and beat it … and then three of my husband’s family members were engulfed by it … the burning desire to do more literally became something I can’t turn off. The more I do, the more I want to do!
That was the sense my radio co-host Rob Harris and I got from Jon Albert, too. What began as a legacy has become an extraordinary gift for more than 900 families across the nation. Talking with him recently on our radio show, it was clear he shared our burning desire to do more …. and more and more. He’s the founder of the Jack and Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation (JAJF), and he knows first-hand about the battle. After losing his wife to cancer the week before Thanksgiving in 2006, Jon continued down a path they had begun together. The mission: to treat families to a time-out “WOW” experience!®
It’s got to bring a smile to your face having created something that oncologists now “prescribe.” The Jack and Jill Late-Stage Cancer Foundation is recommended to families as part of the treatment protocol. There have been amazing advances in cancer; yet, thousands of children every year still lose a parent to the disease. Jon recognizes that cancer doesn’t just strike the patient – it strikes the whole family, as it did his.
Right there, in the middle of the radio episode, we got to wrap our minds around the ripple effect cancer has upon a family and the everlasting ripple effect of JAJF. Rob Baughman called into the show to share his after-story with listeners. He has spent the last year learning to move on with life, after becoming a widower at just 40 years of age. “JAJF gave our family something to always talk about,” Rob affectionately noted. “In twenty years of marriage it was the most amazing experience we ever had.” Laughing and having fun together not only helped Rob and their four children in those final weeks with Taira – the experience helped them move forward with hope. Rob will soon remarry, just as Taira made him promise to do. It was her heart’s desire that he not raise their children alone. She pegged him as far too young to be single for the rest of his life.
When life is wrapped around impending loss, it can be hard to think about things that make you to stop, laugh, and have fun. The Jack and Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation helps make that happen, and Rob Baughman painted an incredible picture of the WOW! experience® JAJF provides. From beaches and sunsets to sporting events, music and roller coasters – it is possible to Hurry Up and Live® — even while head-on in the fight with late-stage cancer.
Jon Albert’s mantra is a sobering one: “It should not take a terminal diagnosis for us to Hurry up and Live!” His new wife Karen, encapsulated the core of the foundation when she spilled those words to Jon. The mantra quickly become a grass-roots movement to raise awareness and funds for JAJF. Moving on with life surely isn’t easy. Still, having Jon Albert and Rob Baughman together on our show helped listeners understand it’s not only possible, it’s a deserved WOW experience!® that keeps the fire burning for life itself.
National extraordinary in-kind partners for the Jack and Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation is continually growing. To date, supporters include Starwood, Marriott, Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons, Hyatt, Loews, Hilton, Waldorf Astoria, The National Dude Ranch Assoc., The NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, the Country Music Assoc., the Grammy’s, National Geographic, SeaWorld, Six Flags, Universal, Disney Broadway, Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Creative Artists Agency (CAA), The Coca-Cola Company, Avis/Budget, United, Hawaiian and Frontier Airlines. A national spotlight has come from NBC Sunday Night Football, The Today Show, CBS, CNN, NBC, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal, among others.
Jon Albert tenderly noted, “The many young Dads and Moms we’ve lost in our first eight years across the country reinforce our most salient and poignant mantra: Memories become our greatest inheritance.”®
The work of the Jack and Jill Foundation is creating a legacy, one family at a time. What’s holding you back from experiencing life’s “wow” moments? I encourage you to get to know the Jack and Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation. Celebrate the difference JAJF is making in families’ lives across the nation, like the Baughman’s. Get involved. Donate. Become part of the meaningful, measurable, lasting impact. Click HERE to visit the Jack and Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation.
Hurry Up and Live!® — it’s more than a motto.
Go HERE to listen, download, or embed the extraordinary podcast with Jon Albert.