Ever since my cancer diagnosis last October, I’ve been highly aware of others that have been touched by cancer. My mom had cancer for 9 years before she passed on July 13, 2012. It always amazes me how people respond to their diagnosis and treatment. I have found you can embrace the cancer, learn some valuable life lessons or you can become bitter, angry and hateful toward God for having you endure this pain.
On Monday, September 30, I was with my special needs client, Mr. K, and we went to volunteer at his mother’s school where she is a nurse. Mr. K and I came to the school to stuff race packets for the upcoming 15th Annual Jared Coones 5K Run. I was given the opportunity to meet Tom Coones, the father of Jared, who was the inspiration for the race. In 1998, Tom’s son, Jared, passed away after a long battle with leukemia. Jared was in elementary school when he died.
When I met Tom on Monday, his face contained a broad smile from ear to ear. His eyes sparkled as he directed the children to assemble the race packets. He stood tall and proud. I felt the desire to shake his hand because I felt God’s presence in the room where he was working.
It wasn’t until I began reading the race pamphlet that I discovered Tom also lost his wife, Jayne, to breast cancer 8 years after Jared died. The thought of this blew my mind. This man had endured so much losing the two people he loved the most. And there he was assembling race packets for a 5K so he could donate the money to raise funds for research that supports cancer patients.
WOW! This 5K race has donated over a half million dollars to local charities since its inception 14 years ago. And to think, Tom could have been stewing over his loss these past 14 years, but he has chosen to give back to our community!
Tom Coones, you amaze me! You are an example for me and you inspire me. I can only hope and pray that if such tragedy comes my way, I can react as you have reacted. God bless you.