MANCHESTER, N.H. – The Southern New Hampshire University men's and women's soccer teams came together Wednesday night at SNHU's Sandbox ColLABorative, along with the New England Revolution's Kelyn Rowe, to stuff 250 JoyJars that were delivered to children and families fighting cancer at Massachusetts General Hospital on Thursday.
JoyJars are plastic jars filled with toys and activities, inspired by Jessie Rees, a 12-year old cancer patient, who wanted to send hope, joy and love to her peers battling cancer. Rees filled more than 3,000 JoyJars during her fight in 2011, with her memory and cause being carried on today by the Jessie Rees Foundation.
"It has such an impact to hear about Jessie's story and then to see actual video footage of how happy kids are when they receive a JoyJar," said women's soccer co-captain Paige Salmon (W. Hempstead, N.Y.) "To have that powerful impact – maybe not going to the hospital and handing a jar to them, but knowing that I was able to put a smile on a kid's face in such a dark time – really speaks volumes."
Rowe became involved with the Jessie Rees Foundation through UCLA classmate Cory Tomlinson, who serves as the foundation's Sports Engagement Manager. Rowe is now what the foundation refers to as a NEGU (Never Ever Give Up) All-Star, going into hospitals all over the country and providing unforgettable moments for children.
"I get to show these student-athletes that there is an opportunity to be involved in something greater than just soccer or than just school," said Rowe, who is currently pursuing his BA in Communication through the College of Online and Continuing Education (COCE) at SNHU. "These kids are fighting cancer and so even when you're going through finals, when you're going through a tough game and it's the 90th minute of the game – there's something better out there, something greater in the world – everything is going to be OK and the world is not going to end. So what can you do to give back?"
The Jessie Rees Foundation, whose mission is to ensure every kid fighting cancer has the support to Never Ever Give Up, has seen over 100,000 JoyJars stuffed and sent to kids worldwide. Learn more at negu.org.
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