Jake shows compassion through Pillow Pets
by Bill Dragon
What does true compassion look like?
Some would say it looks a lot like a child named Jake.
Jake McConahay is seven years old and attends Studio 6.7 at Northview Church’s Carmel campus.
On Oct. 13, 2010, he and his family found out he has stage 4 Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma. This is a very aggressive cancer that started in his leg and now has spread to other areas of his body.
The prognosis is not good, according to the doctors at Riley Hospital, for Jake to recover from this disease.
“He’s taken it pretty well, but it’s been a very fast growing cancer and none of the treatments they have done has helped,” said his mother Tosha McConahay.
Still, Jake is taking chemo treatments regularly and will continue taking them till the doctors say to stop.
“This illness popped up in September, and it’s been a roller coaster ever since,” she added. “Every day, we’re just trying to keep him healthy and happy.”
It’s an illness that is being lived daily by the entire family, including his 5-year-old sister Gracie and 2-year-old brother Jonathan.
You would think Jake would be angry.
And you would not blame Jake if he was only thinking about how unfair it was to be so sick.
But, instead of being consumed by the gravity of his situation, Jake is showing a compassion and love for others in a way that is mature beyond his seven years.
With pride only a mother could really understand, Tosha added, “He’s the sweetest little boy you’d ever want to meet. He’s an amazing kid. He never thinks about himself. He thinks about everyone else.”
So, it’s no surprise to Tosha that Jake would come up with the idea of collecting and distributing Pillow Pets as a way to help the other kids at Riley Hospital.
“We were taking a drive to Riley for our treatment. His Aunt had bought Jake a dinosaur Pillow Pet, and we’ve taken it with us everywhere. I asked Jake, ‘What do you think the kids down at Riley need?’”
Jake’s response was that every kid at Riley needed a Pillow Pet.
Why? ”Because they don’t feel like playing games or doing the artwork all the time since the chemo makes them very sick,” Tosha said. “The doctors are telling the kids scary things every day, and there are lots of shots to endure.”
Jake said he wanted to make sure every child had a Pillow Pet at Riley for that reason.
Pillow Pets are actual pillows in the shape of animals. There are all different kinds and are made by the Pillow Pet Company.
Since November, Jake has collected over 60 Pillow Pets through donations coming from word-of-mouth, from school and Northview church friends and through his website on Caringbridge, http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/jacobmcconahay.
Jan Huntwork, an early childhood volunteer at Northview, heard about Jake’s Pillow Pet drive and got involved herself. After emailing Tosha about how she could help out, she got her Bible Study group involved in making boxes for the Pillow Pets that are coming in. Then they will be delivering the Pillow Pets to Riley.
Jan said the goal is to collect 1,000 Pillow Pets for delivery to Riley by March.
Jan said she was moved to help out when she read Jake’s comment on his Caringbridge site that said, “I want all of my friends at Riley to have Pillow Pets because doctors sometimes have scary things to say.”
Jan summed up the feelings shared by anyone who knows Jake and his story with this: “I had this passion to help such a selfless little boy who had this concern about other people while he is going through this terrible disease.”
And so we are ALL moved by the actions of this child.
Actions that demonstrate love for others in the face of ultimate self-adversity.
Actions that show the compassion of a child named Jake.
You can read an update on Jake’s efforts here: http://thenorthviewblog.us/2011/03/15/jakes-pillow-pet-dream-expands/.
Editor’s Note: To donate Pillow Pets, please bring brand NEW Pillow Pets to Studio 6.7 at the Carmel campus and drop off in the marked collection boxes. If you have questions, contact Shanna Banks at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ship all donations to Northview Church, 12900 Hazel Dell Parkway, Carmel, IN, 46033. Donations will be collected through the end of March.