When Jessica Joy Rees was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in March 2011, she was just 11 years old. An adult might have broken under the weight of that news, but Rees steeled herself and fought.
Through months of treatment at Children’s Hospital Orange County, Rees battled her cancer… and did much more. At her dad's encouragement, she started a blog to keep friends updated on her condition. This blog blossomed into a phenomenon, followed by people around the world who were inspired by Rees's fight and enlightened by her work to raise awareness of childhood cancers.
The support of the blog led to still more good work. Rees created Joy Jars, uplifting and fun care packages donated to children struggling with serious illnesses. And from her motivational acronym NEGU – Never Ever Give Up – the NEGU Foundation was born, with its mission of building awareness, supporting kids with serious illnesses and their families, and raising funds for research.
Jessica died of her illness on January 5, 2012, at age 12. On her Facebook page, where almost 60,000 friends and supporters have followed her inspirational posts, condolences pour in. But it's not just sad words of sympathy that friends and strangers alike are posting. Over and over in their posts you can see Rees's NEGU message. Rees never ever gave up, and she leaves a rich legacy to help other kids stay strong too.
Written by Linnea Crowther