We are humbled and honored to announce that on Monday, November 14th, Julia's Legacy of Hope will be honored at the induction ceremony of the Victor J. Andrew chapter of the National Honor Society. This date will be most appropriate, as we will accept this honor on the third anniversary of her death. We thought we would share our speech with you, as many of you have helped us to be what we are today.
November 14, 2016
One More Thing, One More Time
Good Evening and Thank You Mrs. Dirker and officers of the National Honor Society,
On behalf of Julia’s mother, Leslie, her brother, Michael, her family, friends, teachers and myself, thank you for honoring Julia’s Legacy of Hope at this year’s National Honor Society induction ceremony. We are truly honored to be among such an esteemed class of scholars and future leaders. I’d like to tell you a little bit about who Julia was because that will help you understand what Julia’s Legacy of Hope is and where we would like JLOH to go in the future.
As you might expect I could talk for the rest of the evening about who Julia was, but I will focus on her scholarship and service to others. Like most kids Julia would come home from kindergarten and play until dinner. One evening, though, we called her down from her room and she cried that she wasn’t ready. When we went up to see what the problem was, she said she kept writing her Z’s backwards and she wasn’t coming down until she got it right. This, shortly after she memorized the alphabet backwards! One more thing, one more time.
She continued through school, much like you, loving every minute of it and soaking up all she could learn every day. As she grew up she volunteered at a local rest home for the elderly, she was in the band as a floutist and tutored music lessons as well as academics, she was a member of the junior council in Oak Forest and she played soccer. She graduated from middle school as a member of the National Junior Honor Society. One more thing, one more time.
In high school she continued to excel in academics and soccer. She was a member of the Quill and Scroll society, bringing home honors, along with her peers, for one of the best year books in the state of Illinois. At the conclusion of her sophomore soccer season her coach wanted to promote her to varsity for the state playoffs, pending medical clearance for her left leg limp. That limp never went away and 2 days after her 16th birthday she was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma in her left tibia.
She fought that disease with 4 ½ months of chemotherapy, surgery, and 4 ½ more months of chemotherapy. All that time she maintained her academics and, amazingly, was inducted into the National Honor Society in May of 2010. She graduated from Oak Forest High School in May of 2011 with honors. One more thing, one more time.
That very abbreviated history is important, because it exemplifies an attitude that all of you have, never give up. One of her favorite quotes was from Josh Lundquist, a pediatric cancer survivor and one-legged down hill skier, “One More Thing, One More Time.” That is what many of you do, whether you know it or not. You go to that open lab that Mrs. Johnson offers. You excel in Mr. Johnson’s AP Physics and Mr. Matz’s Calculus classes. Some of you are across the hall from me in Honors German IV or Spanish V. You earn hundreds of hours of community service, not just 24. You tutor in The Center, giving up half of your lunch time. One more thing, one more time.
When Julia went to Bradley University, where she majored in elementary education, she earned the honor of Freshman Student of the Year. During that first year of college she formed the first ever collegiate chapter of CureSerch, an organization dedicated to curing pediatric cancer. That chapter still exists today! At that point Julia, as a member of the Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) population, had survived pediatric cancer and, as always, was thinking of others. She also worked at the OFPD helping kids in day camp. Can you say it with me, “One more thing, one more time.”
During winter break of her sophomore year she came home and went for her six month clinic visit. The labs indicated that the cure for her Ewing’s Sarcoma, a cocktail of 5 different chemotherapies accompanied by total body irradiation had caused her to get Acute Myeloid Leukemia, blood cancer. One good introspective moment, a few tears and a call to her brother, and she was off on her second cancer journey. She went to Pintrist and downloaded 63 different positive quotes and had me get them printed as pictures. Leslie and her made two huge collages from these pictures and Julia used them to get through each day of treatment. One day at Lurie Children’s Hospital the nurse came in and asked where Julia was. She was behind her exercycle, on the floor planking, to keep her core strong. One more thing, one more time.
In late October of 2013 the doctors at Lurie Children’s Hospital told us to go home and make memories. Julia insisted on being home for Halloween so she could see the kids all dressed up in their costumes. Michael asked her what she was going to do with all of her money, and Julia said to donate it to Cure It, a foundation formed by her first oncologist to help kids with cancer. Even in death Julia was thinking of others. On November 14th, 2013, three years ago to this very day, after more chemotherapy and three stem cell transplants, Julia died.
Julia’s high school teachers formed the original Julia’s Legacy of Hope to help with the first fundraiser in Julia’s honor. They handed that organization over to us, and here we are today, a division of the Cure It Foundation. In Julia’s honor and in her spirit we work to raise money to fund pediatric cancer research, lobby congress, provide college scholarships for high school students with Julia’s spirit and comfort kids with cancer.
With the help of many of you, we make Julia’s Inspirational Positive Quote Pillows. We use those quotes I mentioned earlier to make these pillows. [HOLD UP PILLOWS] Some of you have helped stuff the pillows right here at Andrew High School. These pillows, through the Hope Totes program, are given to children newly diagnosed with cancer at five area hospitals: Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital, Lurie Children’s Hospital, Northwestern Proton Center, Lutheran General and Central Dupage Hospital. Julia’s spirit is helping kids with cancer to this very day.
As a non-profit organization we do need to make money to do what we do. We sell these pillows and have found that they are inspirational to not only kids, but anyone going through rough times. Julia’s Legacy Crochet Club sells infinity scarves, Julia’s favorite scarves. We also sell her favorite quotes in frames. As a comfort to kids, Leslie heads the JLOH volunteer program at Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital and the Camp Quality Initiative in Frankfort. One more thing, one more time.
To spread awareness of pediatric cancer we speak to local groups such as women’s clubs and rotary clubs. We are at Andrew Fest in May, the Palos Park Plush Horse in August and Centennial Lanes in January. Our goal is to eventually go out of business. The cures for pediatric cancers are in this room right now. We hope that our efforts will not only fund pediatric cancer trials, but encourage you, adults and students, to contact your representatives in congress and our president elect to fund research that puts an end to pediatric cancer as we know it. To the students about to be inducted into the National Honor Society, I know there one among you who will lead a team of doctors that makes the ultimate breakthrough. I charge you with that task. Andrew High School is an amazing school, recognized by many outside of these walls as an example of what a high school should be. Some of you will become the doctors of tomorrow, wouldn’t it be amazing if you could be part of the team that finds the cure? One more thing, one more time.
|Jeff and Leslie Janes - Parents of Julia|
(Father of Julia)