A 9-year-old boy from Maine who was battling cancer and received thousands of Christmas cards from strangers, celebrities, football teams and more, has passed.
Jacob Thompson had been battling neuroblastoma, a rare cancer that affects mostly children, since he was 5. He wasn’t expected to make it to Christmas, so he requested Christmas cards and celebrated early on Nov. 11 and 12.
The Jacob Thompson’s Journey Facebook page, where his story was shared with the public, announced on Nov. 20 that he passed on Nov. 19.
“It is with heavy hearts that we share the news of Jacob’s passing with you,” the post wrote.
“Neuroblastoma … accounts for 7 out of 10 childhood cancers. Every year, 800 new children are diagnosed with neuroblastoma in the United States alone. It is tragic, and more research and resources are needed to continue fighting for a cure.”
In the past few months, Jacob’s story was covered by CNN and The Washington Post, and his Facebook page grew to more than 20,000 likes.
He received thousands of letters from strangers, autographs from professional football players and personal shout-outs from celebrities.
Someone even sponsored a penguin house for him in New Zealand — Jacob was obsessed with penguins, his stepmom Tara Artinyan told All the Moms. In the weeks leading up to Jacob’s passing, she said she and Jacob even made nightly plans to hang out with penguins in “dreamland.”
Tara said she and her husband, Roger Guay (Jacob’s biological father), felt it was important to share his life story to preserve his legacy and spread awareness.
“When you know your child is terminally ill,” she said every parent asks themselves, ‘Will he make his mark on the world? Will they get to know him?’ “
And Jacob was certainly someone you’d want to know. “He was the coolest kid,” she said. “It’s important that his … spirit of giving and including people is remembered.
Tara said the family has been blow away by the outpouring of public support, and that it has restored her faith in humanity.
“Tensions are high and it’s easy to look at the bad, but so much good is coming out of this,” she said.
The family has requested that anyone who would like to help donate to a penguin rescue group or Operation Gratitude, a 501(c)3 non-profit that sends care packages to service members, their children, veterans and more, according to its Facebook page, in Jacob’s name.
Gone, but never forgotten
Today, the family’s motto #LiveLikeAPenguin is a reminder to emulate Jacob and all that he stood so valiantly for.
Two nights after Jacob passed, Tara said she had a dream he visited her. They went go-karting together.
She didn’t expect to meet in dreamland so soon, she said, voice cracking.
“I felt like that was him telling me he was OK.