Sometimes, Joe pretends he's a pirate. Other days, you can find him driving his mother crazy by goofing around with his siblings, Alice, Ben and Casey. He also wants to be a Marine when he grows up.
When life changed.
Although Joe is a pretty normal kid, he is not your typical 12-year-old. In July of 2014, Joe was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma, a highly aggressive brain cancer. Shortly after his diagnosis, he had brain surgery to remove the tumor. The surgery changed everything. Joe now has a tracheotomy and is on a ventilator. After his surgery, he spent 187 consecutive days at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He also endured 6 tough weeks of radiation therapy and has undergone multiple rounds of chemotherapy. One of the toughest parts is that Joe hasn't been able to speak since his surgery and has a difficult time communicating and moving.
And... Joe deeply misses his beloved father, Chris, who was tragically killed in a car accident 4 years ago. The night before his surgery, when his mother asked him if he was afraid he said, "No mom, because daddy always taught me, Fear Isn't Real."
How we've helped.
As you can imagine, the Henson's have been through more hard times than any family should have to experience. Our goal at Jumbie Industries is to ease the burden of what they are going through, even if it's by providing one extra smile, one moment at a time.
Through the hard work of our team and others, we've raised more than $70,000 for Joe and his family. We've done this in multiple ways. We created a Give Forward page for Joe that tells his story and have shared this through social media. With the help of Matt Vergotis, a talented artist, we designed an awesome t-shirt with Joe's saying, "Fear Isn't Real" that we are selling on Booster.com. Amazingly, Chris Pratt, the actor, has made a huge impact. He's helped us engage the public in selling Joe's shirts by actively retweeting selfies of people wearing them. Chris Pratt has asked his fans to help support Joe on multiple occasions. We've held multiple local fundraisers, getting Joe's local community involved. And now, we are creating beautiful products with a portion of the proceeds going to the Henson family.
We also met a talented photographer named John Waire. He has been so kind and has become a part of our everyday with Joe. He’s taken some images that will be treasured for many years. He is hosting a project called A Year in the Light, and if you are in the Baltimore area, you can have your portrait taken and part of the proceeds will go directly to the Henson family.
Fundraising, and so much more.
But we don't just raise money. We have advocated for Joe, so he receives the treatment he needs. We've fought the insurance companies, leaned on our state representatives to intervene at times, and are currently in a battle with Joe's nursing care agency. We've set up a meal train for their family, so when they are home from the hospital between chemo treatments, they have warm meals delivered to their home. We also found someone in the community that comes to their house and pampers Angie (Joe's mom) by cutting and coloring her hair. We located a wonderful massage therapist that specializes in working with hospice patients. She generously donates her time to visit Joe and give him a gentle massage. This has been great, since it makes Joe feel better for a short amount of time. From the local high school, we have found a volunteer that runs errands for the family. Her volunteer hours count towards her high school graduation requirement for community service hours.
How can you help:
- Donate cash (either through our site, or through giveforward.com)
- Buy a "Fear Isn't Real" t-shirt through booster.com
- Get your portrait photograph taken by John Waire (he donates 50% of the proceeds back to the Henson family)
- Share Joe's story with your family, friends, and colleagues. Post it to Facebook, Twitter, or any other sites you spend time on.
The more people we reach, the more help we can continue to give the Hensons. They've been through so much, let's work together to make their days a little brighter.