The Northview Blog

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Jake shows compassion through Pillow Pets

Posted by on Feb 5, 2011

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.

Jake with his mother, Tosha (Submitted photo)

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.”

Jake and his dad Ben (Submitted photo)

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.

Jake with his dinosaur Pillow Pet (Submitted photo)

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,

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:

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 Ship all donations to Northview Church, 12900 Hazel Dell Parkway, Carmel, IN, 46033. Donations will be collected through the end of March.

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  1. My nephew Calvin was diagnosed with T-Cell Leukemia in November and we have been riding this roller coaster as well. I am posting this to my FB for all my friends and family to see. I want to see Jake get past his 1000 mark. So many people have been so good to Calvin and our family at Riley we want to help as well!

  2. I was on my way home from work this morning (Riley Children’s Hospital) when I heard Lisa and Eric talk about Jake. I was very touched by the story and his desire to give pillow pets to other children. I plan to take Jake a pillow pet this week.

  3. I was very touched when I heard about Jake’s wish on the radio this am on my way to work. I had a daughter who spent many days and nights at Riley Hospital. I did call our local Applebee’s in Lafayette Indiana and they have the donation box available and the story of Jake posted. I will spread the pillow pet word and plan to purchase a pillow pet also.

    • Great! All 32 central Indiana locations (listed at have started collecting as of today, as well as our campuses in West Lafayette & Carmel. Donations can also be shipped directly to the church. Thanks for being willing to help out!

  4. I heard about Jake with Lisa and Eric this morning on my way to work. The story really touched my heart. I have posted in on my facebook page with a request to please send pillowpets and I plan to send one, also!

    • Thanks! You can send all donations to Northview Church, 12900 Hazel Dell Parkway, Carmel, IN 46033.

  5. My 6 year old son and I heard Jake’s story this morning on Klove while we were in route to school. Immediately Josiah’s response was, “we have to help him, we have to get pillow pets for him!” I dropped Josiah off at school and went and picked up 5 pillow pets! I have posted this to my facebook page and also sent out an email to all of the wonderful people that I am so fortunate to work with at Riley, we will help him reach 1000+ pillow pets! We are truly blessed to learn such great lessons from children with huge hearts, what an incredibly brave little boy!

  6. Can we just drop them off at the church? Are there certain hours people will be there to receive them?

    • Yes, you can drop them by the church between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. in the designated bins. You’ll see them the decorated boxes around the church. Thanks!

  7. Jake, God has a special place in heaven reserved for you. You are teaching children the art of giving. That is what life is about. Helping mankind.

    You are in my thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery.

  8. I was listening to K-Love this morning and heard Jake’s story, which brought me to tears. What a remarkable little boy! He is a true blessing from God. I shared this story with family, friends, my church family, co-workers and posted it on Facebook. My goal is to collect enough money for 10 Pillow Pets. (maybe more) My prayers go out to Jake and his family and the rest of the children at Riley Hospital.

    • I just wanted to add that I was so blessed to have help from family and friends in donating 17 Pillow Pets for the children at Riley!!

  9. I will be purchasing and donating a Pillow Pet in Jake’s honor and will encourage others to do so as well. What an amazing boy!! Wow!

  10. My nephew has been fighting stage four neuroblastoma at Riley Hospital since August, and our family has been on the same rollercoaster every since. Right now, he is in ICU just waking up from a coma. I am sharing this with everyone on my Facebook page and I hope he reaches his goal. Thank you for your selfless generosity!! It means so much to the patients, like my nephew!! : )

  11. Jake is so inspirational and a wonderful role model for people of all ages! I am 18 and on January 10th I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. To see a child at such a young age take such a positive attitude during such a rough time is so uplifting. Jake has touched me and helped me to overcome some of my own struggles with my cancer. I purchased pillow pets today that I plan to mail them off tomorrow, but I saw on Tosha’s online journal that you could send donations to ***** (removed for family protection). Does that include the pillow-pets, or are they preferred to be sent to the Northview Church?

    • All donations should be sent to the church, as we are helping wtih the collection, sorting, etc. due to the high number of donations expected (and the limited space at their house to store them)!

  12. God is great and so is Jake! I love hearing about the pillow pets idea. I live in Texas and will check for local ways to assist. My wife and I have been talking about helping our five year old learn the value of community involvement. This is right down that road. An idea struck me of how great it would be to make a web page / non-profit set-up in Jakes’ honor. I looked at a few ideas online, like ForJakesSake, etc. and the domain is available. (a word that meant “cool” in the 1920’s is Jake) Bless you Jake. I’ll help as much as possible.

  13. Hey I heard Jake’s story and thought, “that’s amazing!” Praise God for his heart, because it’s God’s love living through him. Bless you guys as you go through this time wrapped in God’s loving arms.

  14. My son Andrew and I heard about Jake’s quest to give out pillow pets. We thought that was a wonderful idea! We would love to help in other ways too. Please let us know! Our prays go out to Jake!

  15. I have 4 of my own children and we would like to do the same for children in our area. We live in Apex NC right near Duke Hospital, UNC and many other well known hospitals. We were wondering if we can use Jake’s story and picture for flyers to get people to donate pillow pets around here for the children in these hospitals. Can you let me know how to get in touch with the family or if they can just respond to this? Thank you so much for all that you do.

    Love the LaDessos

  16. I saw this listed on my facebook page. It was posted by Paul Poteet, the Best Weatherman ever! I am touched by this story for many reasons. My daughter is also a Riley kid. She is currently collecting money to give back to the Riley Child Life Program, which supplies the kids with activities, books, puzzles, and much more during their stay at Riley. She is paying it forward in celebration of her one year anniversary of her Chiari Decompression surgery last March 9th. Riley does amazing things for the kids, and the child life program helps cheer the kids up and helps them pass the time while they are in the hospital. She appreciated having the activities provided by the child life program so much during her multiple hospital stays, so she wanted to help other kids have the same opportunity.

    I think Jake’s idea is great for the kids that don’t have the energy or interest in the activities, and that they will enjoy having a pillow pet to keep them company during their stay. It sounds like between the efforts of Jake and my daughter, many kids will benefit. If it helps just one child feel better, I think that is a success! I wish Jake the best of luck with his treatment at Riley, and commend him for his wonderful attitude and giving spirit.

    God bless,
    Michelle Crow

  17. I heard this beautiful story about what Jake is doing on my way to work Monday morning on K-Love. It touched my heart! Jake is an amazing little guy with such a sweet spirit! Praise the Lord. I know his parents are so very proud of him and amazed, but these are the things that happen when you have God in your life. Jake, your dream of wanting to help the children at Riley Hospital will far exceed anything you could have ever imagined. I live in Pensacola, FL and have purchased 12 pillow pets to be given to our local children’s hospital in your name. The spirit of God that lives within you is bigger and much more powerful than any cancer. I will be praying for you and your family. Thank you for being such a precious angel.

  18. I heard about Jacob’s cause on K-Love. My best friend and I drove down to Indy Saturday night and attended the 11am Service today at Northview in Carmel. We dropped off 5 Pillow Pets and prayed for all of God’s children. We wish Jacob and his family the best. He is an angel.

  19. What is the last day/date to donate pillow pets? I hope I’m not too late!
    Thank you!

    • We will be collecting them at all area Applebee’s locations through March 10. Northview Church will continue collecting them until the end of March at both the Carmel & West Lafayette campuses.

  20. About a week or so ago I heard about Jake’s PillowPet mission on KLove’s morning show. I talked to my wife Lorna who in turn talked to her Girl Scout Troop. The 10 girls in her troop (ages 9-10) decided unanimously to donate a portion of their cookie sales earnings to help Jake in his mission. We will know exactly how much next week when the sale ends.

    Thank you and let Jake know that all of us in Yorktown, Indiana are praying for him to get better.


    Jeremy and Lorna Tinkel on behalf of Troop 2866

  21. I live in Winston-Salem, NC where we have a hospital called Brenner’s Children’s Hospital. My hope is to get my church to help give to your cause, but also, more information on how we can get this started down here in the east, here in North Carolina and spread the word to people who don’t listen to KLOVE

  22. I just wanted to say how INSPIRING this story has been!~ I heard Jakes Story last week on K-love and after hearing it began to pray about the LORDS Will…was thinking of looking up the address…BUT Felt impressed to get a Pillow Pet to take to a young boy from our community named Thomas who is fighting cancer at the UK Childrens Hospital. I was also impressed to take an EXTRA one for him to choose a friend to give it to. B/C of the fact that he has not felt well and made many friends, his grandparents suggested that we give the other one to a little 4yr old girl named Olivia who was fighting stomach cancer and was in the room next to him.

    I cannot begin to share what a BLESSING it was to do this in HONOR of Jake!~ I pray that many will be inspired to encourage MANY Children with Jake on HIS Journey from the HEART!~

    Thank you KLOVE for sharing this and many other inspiring stories!~
    May GOD Bless You and Strengthen You as you work for the LORD!~

  23. 3 Pillow Pets on their way from Atlanta! and more to come!

  24. I heard on Klove about Jake’s idea for Pillow Pet and his compassion helping other kids with cancer, it was great! Dinosaur picture is super!

    Our Oregon community is reaching out for a little girl Lilli with cancer. I thought Pillow Pet is a great addition to the doll house being built by Home Depot employees for Lilli! I added Pillow Pet to the list the community can consider to donate.

    Thank you Jake and to all those that make dreams possible!

  25. Heard this story on K-Love and immediatley decided to help Jake out with his request. I dropped of my (2) pillow-pets, a ladybug & a dog to my local Applebee’s in Lafayette, IN tonight! Praying for you Jake and your family and thank you for being “Jesus” to others in need. God Bless you and your family…. Psalm 19:14

  26. When I heard Jakes story on K-Love I needed it. I am going through something that only God can take care of and I was praying for myself. When I heard of how Jake is so unselfish and not praying for himself but wanting to give to others, I was heart broken. I have my church praying for Jake and his family. God Bless You Jake, Everyone around you is blessed just by knowing you.

  27. My name is Julie Cotton, and I am a Manager at Chuck E. Cheese in Castleton Indianapolis, In. 46250. We have fundraising events at my store and I would love to set something up in honor of Jake at my store. What it would do is we could have a night (mon, tues, or wed) and 15% of all of the proceeds we get that night will go right into the cause that is important to Jake and that is every kid getting a pillow pet. Please contact me if this is something that you would be interested in doing. I pray for you everyday, being a mom myself I cant even imagine what his parents are going through. I look forward to hearing from you, thank you and god bless you..

  28. I’ve heard Jake’s story several times the past few days on KLove. I have no doubt Jake will reach his goal!! I think it would really be cool if Jake’s mission went national! So, I’m starting to collect Pillow Pets in the Memphis area for our childrens hospitals. Thank you Jake, for thinking of others even in your time of need. You are an inspiration!

    • That is exactly what we are encouraging people to do. If you are out of the Indianapolis area, it is a great thing to give to your local children’s hospital. Thanks for letting us know!

      • It has been exciting to see the pets come in. A little slower at first but picking up speed now! Still hope this is going national!

    • Melissa,

      Do you have a flyer or email you send out on how you go about collecting Pillow Pets in Memphis for children’s hospitals. I am thinking of creating a how to website on the idea that people nationwide can access for free so they can do the same in their community for their local children’s hospitals. Feel free to send me via email the steps you took too. I think it is a fabulous idea.



      • Hey Dennis,
        Sorry, I just now saw your post. Our church has a group email that goes out daily, so I have asked for donations that way. My son’s class at school has brought some in. I have posted on Facebook & then many others have re-posted. It was a little slow at first, but now they are rolling in!! We have about 70 with money to buy more. My sister in MO is also gathering pets to bring down to us. I don’t have an official flier or email, just word is slowly but surely spreading! I’m not sure that helps you at all! I also have a friend who works at our children’s hospital & she gave me the person’s name that I need to contact about donating. I would definitely include that in any site you create. For people to contact the hospital to see how they can go about donating. It’s exciting to see people coming together to help others!!

  29. Jake, you precious little guy….God is truly speaking through you…I know your parents are sooooo very proud of you, but just think how Jesus is soooo very proud of you…God will move on you behave….Please remember all the happy faces you are going to create with the pillow pals…You need to know people around the nation is praying for you and your family…Love conquers all in Jesus name…Teresa (GiGi)

  30. God bless you Jake and all you’re doing for God’s children at local hospitals all around the country! If only more people would recognize like you did through their suffering that they can still make a difference in this world and God will grant them peace and joy through it all! I love you Jake! God loves you more!

  31. My cousin Melissa called me this morning to tell me Jake’s story and what she along with me wants to do. We were very touched by a little boy who is sick that has a wonderful heart. My cousin and I live in Arkansas in different cities but we want to start a donation for pillow pets in our local areas and hopefully state wide and collect them for the children at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. We want to let Jake and his family know what we are planning to do and how much such a precious little boy has touched lives. God bless, Carrie and Melissa

  32. Hi, I wanted to know if anyone knows how I can help! I live in Great Bend Kansas and love pillow pets and I think this is amazing that he is doing this and I feel compelled to help out, so let me know! Thanks! (:

    You can find me on Facebook at Courtney Marie.. Just shoot me an email (:

    • You can start your own drive in your local community. All it takes is one person to get passionate about it & get a few local churches/organizations behind it to help! Thanks!

      • Thanks! (:

  33. I think this sweet little boy is doing amazing things and my son and I would love to get involved in our own community to spread the LOVE that Jake has. How would I go about getting things started in my area…any suggestions would be wonderful and we would be sure to spread the word about Jake’s story and what he has done so far. 🙂

  34. I heard on KLove radio this morning that 4,000 pillow pets have been collected and distributed to other hospitals for their children patients.

  35. We just want to know how we can help in any way with whatever you guys need or want. We would like to give whatever we can to help !! Please E-mail me back GOD BLESS !!

    • We are really encouraging people to start their own Pillow Pets in their own communities in honor of Jake. We hope you will donate a few in Jake’s name & come back and tell us about it! If you really want to donate to Jake’s Pillow Pet collection, you can ship Pillow Pets (or have them shipped) to Northview Church, 12900 Hazel Dell Parkway, Carmel, IN 46033. Thanks for your willingness to help out!

  36. I work in the Cancer Center at Riley. I work mostly in the Stem Cell Transplant Unit (we do bone marrow transplants) and also in the cancer center’s outpatient clinic. I have seen SO many kids receive these pillow pets and just wanted to thank each of you who have contributed. It has made some days that would normally be very bad days into days that are “pretty good” because of their new companion. Thank you also to Jake and his family for keeping this mission alive:) Although you all don’t get to see the way each of these children lights up when given their new gift, I do….. and it is AMAZING to see such joy out of these little ones battling so much. So thank you, thank you, thank you for taking care of these kids that I care about so much! Jake- thanks for taking care of all of your new friends:)

  37. Hi Jake,
    I just wanted to let you know that Our Savior Lutheran Church in Burlington Wisconsin has collected 17 pillow pets for the Childrens Hospital in Milwaukee Wisconsin in your honor.
    We are praying for you.

  38. A lovely story about our local Corvallis Oregon community and Home Depot coming together to build a full size dollhouse for 3yr old Lilli who has cancer. Pillow pets and many many other items were also donated.

  39. Jake has been in my thoughts and prayers since before Christmas. I work with a friend of Jake’s mother and we have been praying for Jake and his entire family. We collected gifts and items for Jake’s family for Christmas and have constant updates from my co-worker on Jake and his generosity in helping others. I pray for a miracle in Jake and know that he is already a miracle of GOD’s true love! God bless you Jake!

  40. So sorry to hear about your son. My heart breaks for you as I am watching my daughter go through chemo. Both her and my younger daughter received one of the pillow pets and brought big smiles to their faces. Thank you Jake for your generosity.

  41. Your son has inspired me! I heard of his story the other day and would like to keep it going.

    Would you mind if we promoted this cause at our home church?

    God’s blessings,

    Sheri Wellman

    • We would love for you to carry this forward in Jake’s honor! Thanks!

  42. I have seen Pillow Pets in several stores in a few different sizes. Are you accepting all sizes? I have not seen one as big as Jake is holding but will keep looking.
    God Bless you Jake!

    • Michelle–Yes, all sizes are great. The small sizes are given to babies & younger children, and the bigger size to older children. Here in Indy, we’ve been able to find both sizes at grocery stores, pharmacies & toy stores. Thanks for helping out!

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