Once in a while, I have a divine appointment with people I consider “unmistakable heroes.” Max Page, who plays “Reed Hellstrom” on the Emmy-award-winning, CBS daytime drama, “The Young and the Restless,” is one of those individuals. Born with Tetralogy of Fallot, a congenital heart defect, I’m amazed at how the energetic 9 year-old wears a pacemaker, yet plays golf and baseball, swims, acts, and fundraise for numerous charities. “Max has had eight surgeries since he was born. Most of them were at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). But, nothing slows him down,” says the overcomer’s mom, Jennifer Page. “When not on set or playing sports, he spends the other majority of his time raising money for charities,” she adds. One of Max’s first big breaks came when he starred as Little Darth Vader in the memorable 2011 Volkswagen Passat Super Bowl commercial that went viral on YouTube, receiving more than eight million views. The original Star Wars™ theme thundered in the background, while the costumed Little Vader attempts to use “the force” on his dad’s Volkswagen Passat. Dad’s secret car remote from the kitchen helps the car “magically” start.
Max was building holiday-themed JoyJars® in the CBS Executive Board Room, adjacent to “The Young and The Restless,” set when I met him a couple of weeks ago. He received his first JoyJar® while a patient last winter at CHLA. “I was surprised when I got the jar. I didn’t expect it and the toys were cool,” recalls Max. “And then, when my brother Els got one, I thought that was even cooler!” Oftentimes, children’s hospital gifts during the holidays are handed out to babies, toddlers and kids under 5. Thus, Max, Els and kids ages 12-to-14 receiving gifts catered to their liking are unique. JoyJars® are the concept of Jessica or “Jessie Joy” Rees of the Rees Foundation (www.negu.org). She was 11 when first diagnosed with two inoperable brain tumors on March 3, 2011. The tween fought courageously for 10 months until her death Jan. 5, 2012.
“It was Jessie’s idea of putting toys into jars, and then giving them to kids on the cancer wards. Jessie felt bad because they couldn’t go home,” Jessie’s mom, Stacey Rees explains. “Jessie was always concerned about everyone else’s well-being instead of her own.” In the end, she personally stuffed and sent more than 3,000 age- and gender-appropriate – 64-oz jars. At the same time, Jessie developed a mantra of hope that she also shared wherever she went: “Never Ever Give Up,” and her foundation is built on this legacy.
“I love this organization because it’s about kids and for kids. They’re not trying to cure anybody. They’re just trying to help kids have fun and put smiles on their faces,” Max emphasizes. With a fervor and passion, Max carries Jessie’s legacy as Jr. Joy Ambassador for the Jessie Rees Foundation. The talented actor also takes this leadership position in stride: as the Celebrity Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network, guiding the Jr. Ambassadors at CHLA, Max has already represented 217 hospitals and institutions, while lobbying in DC on numerous children’s healthcare issues.
Not only inspired by both the stories of Jessie and Max, but also having endured overnight stays at CHLA with my own sick kids, I helped stuff JoyJars®. It felt empowering knowing that I contributed to the happiness of countless sick children at CHLA, where the jars that I made were shipped. I plan to continue volunteering and contributing to this worthy cause in the future. The Jessie Rees Foundation is hoping to raise $200,000 in order to send 10,000 Holiday JoyJars® to children with cancer within the 50 U.S. states. After the holidays, an additional 100,000 jars will be shipped worldwide.
Since its inception in 2011, the Jessie Rees Foundation has over 4,200 volunteers nationwide and more than 210,000 Facebook Fans. More importantly, JoyJars® are now being shipped worldwide including, as well as 240 children’s hospitals, 175 Ronald McDonald Homes throughout America, and 18 countries globally! Jessie’s honorable deed has created a life-changing legacy of love.
– THAT’S IT MOMMY PENNY
To donate directly, call 1-888-648-6348, visit www.negu.org, or www.jessie.org. Join the “Joy Squad,” where your $20 monthly membership donation for one year provides 12 kids a much-needed “pump” of joy. Each “JoySquad” member receives 6 customizable mini JoyJars® and a “JoySquad” T-shirt. A total of 18 people profit from your support, 12 kids fighting cancer and 6 people you adore.
* This is not a sponsored post. We were invited to attend this event by MomsLA and Young and The Restless. The review is in our own words and is our opinion. Your results and opinions may differ.