MONCLOVA (WTVG) - September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and the numbers are staggering. Every day, 43 kids are diagnosed with cancer. The average age is just six-years-old. 12% of the children who are diagnosed with cancer do not survive. A local family who lost a child to the disease is working to help change those numbers with a special event next month.
Jack Fineske lost his battle against brain cancer when he was just 11-years-old. His family has turned their private loss into a way to help others. Catching Up With Jack is a walk and 5k in Jack's memory. What they've accomplished with the event in the three years since his death has added up to a whole lot of help.
This is how Jack's uncle Jim Herrick describes him,"He was kind. He was loving, and he was thoughtful." His family says Jack kept all those traits as he battled brain cancer.
His father Brady Fineske says Jack was just two days shy of his sixth birthday when he was first diagnosed, "Jack had a brain tumor at the base of his brain stem. He had surgery to remove it, and he went through several rounds of radiation and chemo."
His cancer came back twice after his initial diagnosis. In October 2015, Jack lost his fight. Brady says his family has turned their pain into action, "We feel called to help other families because we were so taken care of through this journey. We had support from family and friends, and we realize not everybody has that."
Jim says that's why the Catching Up With Jack charitable fund was started, "Of all the federal funding for cancer research in America, only 4% goes to pediatric cancers. That is crazy to us."
The Catching Up With Jack fund provides money for research as well as financial and emotional support for families caught in the same struggle. Brady says requests for that help come in on a regular basis, "I don't know what else to do other than to hopefully see a day where there's a cure and families don't have to go through what we did, In the meantime, we want to help as many people as possible."
Some of the money raised at last year's event has been used to fund a special program here in Toledo, "Each child diagnosed with pediatric cancer at Toledo Children's Hospital gets what we call a Fire by Jack. It's a Kindle Fire. It is loaded with age appropriate and gender specific movies and shows and games. It also allows the kids to do their homework on it. We loaded information on to the device so people can learn about the ways we can help them. That program is a direct result of our event last year."
In his short time on earth, Jack Fineske had a lasting and powerful impact on so many around him. Jim says that legacy lives on thanks to his family and all of those who will walk and run in his memory next month, "selfishly I have gotten so much out of this. Jack was such an inspiration and he changed my world. This event has turned into such a positive thing. It is family event, and it's a celebration of what we're able to do and how we're able to help people."
The Catching Up With Jack run and walk is September 23rd at Monclova Elementary School. Registration starts at 3pm. Organizers say they're expecting about 1,000 people, and the goal is to raise $100,000 that day. If you register this Friday through Labor Day, there's an extra bonus Your money will be matched dollar for dollar.
We've posted a link.
By the way, Brady says the name Catching Up With Jack came to be because Jack taught all of them so many things in his short life, and they're now all striving to catch up with him.