This month, despite taking a leave from the official Foodie Pen Pals exchange due to travel, I sent a package to a very special pen pal with a story that I hope will touch your heart. Jedi Max is the eight-year-old son of a high school friend of mine, Jay, and her husband, Scott. In high school, Jay and I were in theatre together so we have lots of crazy stories! I don’t have too many close friends from my youth anymore, so the few who I do have are quite precious to me, as are their families. Max and I even have a history. Once, I visited Jay over Valentine’s Day weekend, and Max declared himself my boyfriend. He was quite the sweetheart all weekend long.
With permission from his mama, I sent Max questions about food allergies and preferences, just like I would for any other pen pal and waited for his response. I’m pretty sure that Max wins the award for fastest response time for any of my pen pals so far as I had his answers back in under 30 minutes! His questions were a little more kid-friendly, but still centered around likes/dislikes/information-gathering for my shopping purposes. When his answers came back via Jay, one thing was clear: the boy has a sweet tooth!! I also appreciated that he said he was willing to try new things.
Here is what Max and Jay had to say about the treats Max received. They also took great pictures with some of the most hilarious faces ever!
Dried Pineapple: “It smelled okay. It looked interesting.” He didn’t like it. “I like my food with more moisture.”
Dried Apple Rings: He was scared when he saw it. He tasted it and disliked it. He said “It tasted like a bad frozen yogurt.” (He and Katie both tried the fruit).
Julio’s Chips: “They looked good. The bag was bright!” He said they were “okay” but disliked them more than he liked them. He had more fun feeding them to me b/c they are GOOD!
Jr. Mints: They were melted in the box. He said it smelled “nice and minty.” He said, “They didn’t taste like I thought they would.” He was hoping they would taste more like the ice cream.
Green and Red Apple Jelly beans: “The red ones were the best… they were sweeter.”
Green Apple Soda: By far his favorite! “It was green and delicious!”
If you take a minute and look up at the tabs across the top of my blog, you’ll notice a new tab titled “Jedi Max.” There you can find more details about what I’m fixing to share with you and how you can make a difference, but I wanted to introduce it to you in person. At the beginning of May, Jay took Max to the doctor several times over the course of two weeks for not feeling well, and it culminated in a trip to the ER and emergency transport from their town to Dell Children’s Hospital in Austin because Max had a mass on the right occipital lobe of his brain. In under a week, he had surgery to have the mass taken out, and while he was slated to be in the hospital for at least a week, he was released in 4 days. Now he’s just finished radiation with chemotherapy soon to follow. They travel 800 miles a week, total, for his medical appointments which are all in Austin where they do not live, but the doctors do. It has gotten difficult financially for them and will continue to get even more so as Max’s medical bills come in over time. At this point, it’s unclear if Jay will be able to return to her job in the fall or not.
A friend of theirs has started a donation site at Give Forward where folks can donate to help cover their expenses. I’ve read through the site, and it seems legit. What I did notice is that the site takes 7% of funds raised (“a small processing fee”), so if we want to give Max and his family $20,000 in September, we really need to raise approximately $21,500 (if I did the math right). If you feel led to help a little boy and his family, or even just to learn more about his story, please click on the “Jedi Max” tab for links to the original blog of his story, the current blog, and the donation site. If every pen pal and friend who visited my blog over the next few days was willing to donate $15 (the cost of the average pen pal package), we could nearly double the amount they currently have raised. Can we do that? I bet we could! I feel confident about the difference we can make.
In the mean time, enjoy some pictures of Max! He’s a great kiddo with a big heart who is going to beat this cancer and go on to make a difference in the world. Love this kid!