The organizers of a Prince Albert-based fundraiser hope to provide love, support and peace of mind for the family of a four-year-old boy suffering from an aggressive and inoperable brain tumour.
Jett Reis was admitted to hospital in Saskatoon on Feb. 1, and diagnosed the next day with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a rare pediatric brain tumour.
On Tuesday, Prince Albert organizers created “Java 4 Jett” and partnered with local coffee house Dr. Java’s to try and raise money for the family. They sold 250 bags of coffee within the first hour.
“We’re just blown away with how it’s taken off,” said Chelsey Beres, one of the organizers overseeing the campaign. “We thought, ‘if we can put something together to cover some day-to-day costs for Manny and Larisa (Jett’s parents) that would be amazing,’ and it just took off.”
Chelsey is Larisa’s cousin, and one of six organizers involved with Java 4 Jett. She said they saw a family in need and wanted to help, and since Larisa grew up in Prince Albert, they thought it was a logical place to start.
“Growing up, we were always very, very close,” Beres said. “When things get tough, we always help each other out, we’re always there for each other. They are just such an amazing and genuine family, so we thought, ‘we can’t change the situation, but what can we do to make things easier for them.’”
Jett’s radiation treatment began on Feb. 11, and will likely last several weeks. However, the rare nature of the disease means the family will eventually have to leave Canada for experimental treatment. The family hopes Jett will qualify for clinical trials in the U.S. or Australia, something Beres said would create a significant financial burden.
Jett’s parents have already been forced to take time off from work to help care for him and his four siblings. Beres said the family will need help covering a variety of expenses.
She described Jett as sweet and energetic young boy who was always looking out for his siblings.
“His youngest siblings are twins, and he will cover them up on the couch with a blanket and tuck them in,” Beres explained. “He’s always very aware of other people’s feelings. He’s just a very sweet and genuine kid.”
She added that partnering with Dr. Java’s was a natural choice since the business owners are frequently involved in community fundraisers, and understand the challenges since they have children of their own.
So far Java 4 Jett has received orders from as far away as Ontario and B.C. Often, those customers will purchase several bags of coffee to support the cause, then ask the organizers to donate it to a local non-profit or community organization in need.
“The success has been two-fold,” Beres said, “It’s so overwhelming.”
Residents can purchase whole beans or ground coffee from Java 4 Jett for $20 a bag. The bags are one pound each, and $10 from each purchase goes towards Jett and his family.
Organizers have also scheduled deliveries for communities outside of Prince Albert. The list includes, Melfort, North Battleford, Unity, Wilkie, Saskatoon and Moose Jaw.
To place an order, visit the Java 4 Jett Facebook page, or contact Chelsey and Chris Beres at 306-930-7795, Currie and Lisa Sorba at 306-230-2700, or Chad and Amber Sorba at 306-370-7339.
Family members have also created a Go Fund Me page to raise financial support. As of Thursday, the page had raised more than $90,000 in donations.