Never, ever give up.
That’s the motto of the Jessie Rees Foundation and one that has become personal for 12-year-old Jerron Hoffman and his family.
Now a seventh-grader, Jerron lost his mother in March 2021 to a battle with cancer. To honor her memory and the memory of Jessie Rees, he’s leading a Mobile JoyJar Factory event Oct. 8 at Tysons Sport and Health at 8250 Greensboro Drive in McLean, Virginia.
Volunteers will work to fill hundreds of jars with custom toys and items to be given to teens and children fighting cancer. They’re called JoyJars and are the heart of the Jessie Rees Foundation, which was started by Rees, who had terminal cancer. Rees passed away from cancer at age 12 in 2012, but her legacy of care and compassion lives on.
The foundation continues working to encourage and support those undergoing treatment and their caregivers. Members of the Rees family will be at the event.
“JoyJars are stuffed with mini toys based on the kid’s favorite color and some of their interests,” Jerron said. “A lot of people invest in the cure for cancer, but that’s really unlikely to help anyone in the moment. But with (focusing on care), it’s much easier to help someone immediately, right now. We’re working on the cure too, but it won’t make a difference in the moment.”
Jerron is the son of Daniel Hoffman, who worked as a CIA station chief and is active with the International Swimming League.
“We’ve got a lot of donations already and are inching up toward $200,000, which means we’re going to stuff a lot of JoyJars and bring a lot of joy to a lot of kids who are in great need,” Daniel Hoffman said.
Jerron Hoffman was in kindergarten when his mother, Kim, was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, and his brother Nathan was a couple of years younger. He remembers her today as someone who loved fiercely and refused to give up as long as there was any chance of a cure.
“We’re deeply thankful to the Jessie Rees Foundation for giving us the opportunity to honor my late wife and honor Jessie Rees,” Daniel Hoffman said.
“It’s really important to Jerron. He’s 12 years old, and he’s seeing the world through the eyes of those kids who are fighting cancer, and he’s wanting to help them. It makes me proud that he has that level of empathy and that he also wants to focus on doing good work and bringing joy to kids’ lives. That’s the best way we can carry on honoring his mom’s memory. She taught us to never, ever give up, and so we’re not going to.”
Supporters are invited to donate directly to the Jessie Rees Foundation at www.negu.org and to sign up for a shift to help stuff jars with toys and other items. Corporate sponsorships are available as well. Attendees will be able to hear from guest speakers and enjoy an array of food.
“My mom never gave up,” Jerron Hoffman said. “No matter how bad things got, if there was a chance she could be cured, she never gave up.”