By Lori Butterworth, Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Support Services
There are some things in life that seem beyond our human capacity to endure. Hearing the words, “Your child has cancer,” is certainly one. But, when those words are followed by, “There’s nothing more we can do,” human endurance is tested beyond imagination. When Rob Stuart heard those words, he decided to turn his grief into compassion for other children, whose lives, like Rob’s son Jordan’s, would be cut short by cancer.
In 1993, sitting at a Kenny Loggins concert following his son Jordan’s death, moved by the music, the idea came. Rob would carry Jordan’s love with him to his place of refuge: the golf course. On that day, a grieving dad set out to raise as much money as he could to care for children like his beloved son, and to find a cure for the monster that stole Jordan’s life. The first Jordan and Kyra Memorial Golf Tournament was held that year.
Then, in 1995, Rob invited four-year-old Kyra Pillsbury and her family to the tournament. Radiant, dynamic, loving and articulate, Kyra had been diagnosed with an aggressive, malignant brain tumor just after her third birthday. Tragically, after a year and a half of hospital stays, chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, needle pokes, blood draws and transfusions, Kyra died at home on February 15, 1996. Flashing her family the sign language shorthand for “I Love You” even after she could no longer speak, this gesture remained symbolic as it evolved into the design of the Jordan and Kyra Memorial Foundation logo.
Now celebrating its 24th year raising funds for pediatric brain tumor research and family care, the tournament will be held on Friday, September 15, at Seascape Golf Club in Aptos, CA. It is quite fitting that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
Last year the Jordan & Kyra Memorial Foundation announced that it is expanding its partnership with Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Support Services, a local non-profit dedicated to improving the quality of life for children from Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Benito and South Santa Clara Counties who have cancer. Building upon the partnership developed in 2013, the Jordan & Kyra Memorial Foundation will earmark a major portion of funds that will be raised through the 2017 Annual Jordan & Kyra Memorial Foundation Charity Golf Tournament to Jacob’s Heart.
“We are very appreciative for the outpouring of compassion and support during the past 24 years, which has helped us to make an important impact on the lives of children with life-threatening illnesses as well as fund the critical research currently being done that will hopefully one day find a cure for pediatric brain tumors and other forms of pediatric cancer,” said Stuart. “We truly admire the extraordinary work being done by Jacob’s Heart to provide support services for the families of children with cancer, and look forward to working closely with them to make this year’s Jordan & Kyra Memorial Charity Golf Tournament our most successful ever.”
We at Jacob’s Heart certainly echo those feelings and are indebted to the Jordan & Kyra Memorial Foundation for its passion and support, which will enable us to reach significantly more families of children with cancer. When a child is ill, the effects on the entire family are devastating and long lasting. We look forward to continuing to provide family-centered care, financial assistance and a myriad of counseling, education and support services, which will be greatly enhanced by this unique, heartwarming collaboration.
Established in 1998, Jacob’s Heart provides family-centered care that addresses the emotional, practical and financial struggles experienced by the families of children and teens during treatment, families with anticipatory grief, and those who are bereaved. Jacob’s Heart strives to inspire compassionate action within local communities to create a safety net of support for the unique needs of each child and family.
Since 1998, Jacob’s Heart has served hundreds of local children with cancer and thousands of their family members. Just a few of the programs and services it provides include bilingual counseling and family support, including grief counseling for the entire family; Camp Heart + Hands, a family camp for the families of children with cancer; direct financial assistance for families facing financial hardships during treatment or for memorials and legacies; and a program that delivers nutritious meals and groceries to families during treatment.
The 24th Annual Jordan & Kyra Memorial Charity Golf Tournament on Friday, September 15, will include a shotgun start tournament with a variety of on-course contests, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction, and an awards dinner banquet. To enter, sponsor the tournament, or for more information, please visit www.jordanandkyra.org/tournament.
Lori Butterworth is the founder and executive director of Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Support Services. She lives in Soquel with her husband Joe and their dog, Theo. They have two grown children. For more information about Jacob’s Heart, please visit www.jacobsheart.org. For more information about Jordan & Kyra, visit www.jordanandkyra.org.