Eric Rees is the father of Jessie Rees, the little girl who started a fire within the hearts of many to do something about childhood cancer. He has written a book, Never Ever Give Up: The Inspiring Story of Jessie Rees and her JoyJars and was gracious enough to answer some questions about the book, Jessie, and NEGU. Visit NEGU at negu.org to learn more.
Never Ever Give Up is immensely personal. Why is it important to share your daughter’s story?
I had three goals for sharing Jessie’s story; increase awareness of childhood cancer, give people facing personal hurdles in life hope and to create a wave of compassion through personal acts of kindness.
You did not fully share the extent of Jessie’s illness to your other two children. Do you think this was the right move? Why?
Every parent has to make decisions that they feel are best for their children. Stacey and I felt it was best to hold on to the fact God could heal Jessie at anytime. In addition, we wanted everyone living with “hope”, which is a very powerful thing in life no matter what age. Was it the right move? After talking with Shaya and JT afterwards they were both thankful they didn’t live with this dark cloud over their lives each day. They did an amazing job loving their sister and being there for her. Looking back, we wouldn’t have changed a thing.
1. Jessie had a strong faith in God. How did she draw strength from her relationship with God during her treatment?
Jessie did have an amazing faith in God which inspires me daily. She would pray for herself, listen to worship music during treatments and do her nightly devotions with her mommy. She drew her strength from Phil. 4:13 and asked God daily for support.
1. Over 80,000 JoyJars have been distributed internationally. How have you accomplished so much in such a small time frame?
We are actually nearing 100,000 JoyJars in all 50 states and 28 countries. We just received a request from Lima, Peru. Social media has been the best channel of communication for us. Jessie simply just started at Children’s Hospital of Orange County and it grew week by week. We now partner with over 275 children’s hospitals and 175 Ronald McDonald Houses.
1. Do you have advice for other Christians who may be questioning God’s plan?
I don’t know if I would call it “advice” but I would let them know they are not alone in their feelings. I questioned God many times and still do. I don’t question His love for me or Jessie. I questioned His choice in using Heaven as a healing agent. But now that time has past, I see His plan. Jessie was an Angel sent to Earth with a message (Never Ever Give Up) and a mission (childhood cancer). How else can you explain how one twelve year old girl, fighting cancer, choose to give to other kids and started a global movement of compassion that has raised millions of dollars to “care” for children/families fighting cancer around the world. My only answer is, God had a plan!
In addition, I would encourage them to realize God’s plans don’t always match up to our own plans but He is still a loving and caring God. Faith in God is all about “believing” in our hearts and heads that God loves us no matter what and when we fully depend on Him, He will show us the way.
Tell us more about the Jessie Rees Foundation. September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness month. How can we help?
The Jessie Rees Foundation is a global childhood cancer charity dedicated to ensuring every child fighting cancer has the support and resources to Never Ever Give Up. We fulfill our mission by 1) encouraging courageous kids to NEGU, 2) assisting courageous families to NEGU, 3) rallying communities to NEGU for courageous kids, 4) mobilize athletes to NEGU for courageous kids and 5) inspire the world to NEGU for courageous kids.
Each year in the US, the month of September is dedicated to “childhood cancer awareness”. If you have a social media platform, please join our Going Gold campaign and help raise awareness of this devastating disease.