Many of you generously donated toward our end of the year DVDs last year knowing that the funds we raised were going to the Nichols family to help with Jennie’s medical expenses. I am sad to say that Jennie died on June 20th. Jennie was 14 years old.
Jennie Nichols attended Aldersgate during her toddler and preschool years (as did her brother Graham.) Her mom, Kelly Nichols, was on our preschool board. The family also attended Aldersgate United Methodist Church. Jennie battled osteosarcoma for two years. For those of us that knew Jennie we were sure she would win the fight against one of the most deadly childhood cancers. She was that tough. She was that strong. Physical and emotional strength, however, was not enough to beat bone cancer this time.
Many of us followed Jennie’s journey through her facebook page. One of the most poignant moments was when Jennie stated that she now understood a quote that hadn’t made sense to her before.
(link to site by clicking photo)
And Jennie danced! She let us all join in her hard journey while making us laugh with her wit. She even named her IV pole and gave it a personality. Jennie is a true inspiration for me as I face different hardships. I wish I had her wit. I wish I had her determination.
After Jennie’s death, Kelly received a gift of several yellow umbrellas with Jennie’s name surrounded by a heart printed on it. She gave some to us at preschool. We are putting them to good use.
We have established the Jennie Nichols “Dancing in the Rain” award. Each year we will be honoring a staff member that most embodies this spirit. Here is the certificate they will receive.
I was happy to present this award to Michelle Loe at our last staff meeting. As many of you know Michelle gives of herself so easily. She loves and welcomes everyone she meets. Michelle loves every child (and adult) unconditionally. Michelle is always the first person to reach out in support when one of our staff members has a burden in their own lives. A few years ago I personally received her loving care and attention as she cooked meals that would fit a specific diet I needed to follow in preparation for my thyroid cancer treatment. This is just one example of how Michelle reaches out. Michelle is also affectionately known as the “mom” of our staff. She does many of the drudgery jobs (shopping, dishes, laundry, etc.) that help our preschool run without a hitch. She does all this with a smile! Michelle is a shining example of what this award represents. I know she doesn’t like the limelight but be sure to say something to Ms. Michelle next time you see her. She deserves this recognition along with the small gift of thanks that accompanied it.
One final note about Jennie’s story. The Nichols were blessed to be able to pay all their medical bills and still have some additional funds left in their medical account. Recently they used the funds to make a payment toward the Zach Sobiech cancer research fund that supports research specifically for osteosarcoma. Their gift helped the fund reach their $1,000,000 goal. How cool is that! Here is a wonderful article about the payment reaching the goal and more about this effort.
It is especially fitting that all this is happening this month. In case you didn’t already know, September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month.