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Jason’s Friends Foundation: Small but mighty

Photo Courtesy of Jason's Friends Foundation

Slips and trips are a normal part of childhood. But when one particular fall revealed a small bump on 2-year-old Mary’s face that would not go away, this family’s worst nightmare was realized. What was thought to be normal swelling from a minor accident turned out to be a malignant tumor. Further imaging revealed a 9-centimeter tumor in her abdomen which, combined with the tumor on her face, resulted in a diagnosis of Stage 4 High Risk Neuroblastoma.

Mary spent the majority of 2022 and 2023 in and out of the hospital. She has undergone numerous cycles of chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapy, not to mention multiple surgeries and other invasive procedures — all meant to save her life, but with harsh physical and mental side effects. 

Mary went from playing at home with her six siblings every day to spending countless days being poked and prodded within the confines of a hospital. She went from a normal, healthy 2-year-old to one of the 43 children diagnosed with cancer every day in the United States. 

“When Jason’s Friends Foundation received the news about Mary, I couldn’t help but think about my own daughter at that age,” said Ali Pousha, family support coordinator for Jason’s Friends Foundation. “My heart broke for what she and her family were going through and would face for years to come.” 

Now, after two years of treatment and an unexpected relapse, Mary’s scans are clear and she has finally been able to ring the bell signifying the end of her intense treatment regimen.

This is why Jason’s Friends exists. In the throes of some of the scariest moments of these families’ lives, Jason’s Friends can provide a measure of hope. The foundation is able to relieve the burden weighing on the parents of these cancer warriors so they’re able to cross that finish line with focus.

From travel expenses, such as lodging and gas, to household bills and insurance deductibles, Jason’s Friends provides financial support to the 155 Wyoming families facing a pediatric cancer diagnosis. With no pediatric oncology facilities locally, these families must travel to a neighboring state, or sometimes much further, for the life-saving treatment they desperately need. The financial burden this places on them cannot be understated. 

26th Annual Bowl for Jason’s Friends

In order to provide this level of support to so many families, Jason’s Friends Foundation needs your help.

Its one and only annual fundraiser, Bowl for Jason’s Friends, will be held on March 2, 2024, at El Mark-O Lanes in Casper. This will be the 27th year helping Wyoming families, and they need support now more than ever. 

Jason’s Friends is excited to be offering an opportunity for Gillette-area residents to fundraise and bowl for the second year in a row. Join other local sponsors, volunteers and families at Camelanes in Gillette from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. to show your support and raise awareness. 

Last year, this event brought in over $375,000 through sponsorships, donations and individual fundraising efforts. However, annual funding for these families was over $650,000 in 2023 alone. There is so much work to be done, and Jason’s Friends is committed to making sure Wyoming families have everything they need in a time of such uncertainty — but they can’t do it alone. 

Bowlers can head over to jasonsfriends.org/bowl for more information about the event and to register their fundraising teams to bowl on the big day. Every bowler who collects the $100 minimum will receive a free commemorative T-shirt. This event would not be possible without the help of dedicated people with a passion for caring for others. There has never been a better time to get involved. To learn how to support Jason’s Friends’ mission, please reach out to the Jason’s Friends office at info@jasonsfriends.org or 307-235-3421.

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