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Inspiration Comes In All Sizes


Four year old Jacob Will of Lebanon is much like any other energetic little boy. He loves to color, read stories, and ride his bike. The difference is that Jacob has cancer and is in a wheelchair most of the time. He certainly doesn’t let his illness keep him from enjoying life!

“He is so cheerful!” says Alyssa Will, Jacob’s mom, as she discusses all of the obstacles he has had to face in his short life. It started out with seemingly routine preschooler problems: occasional vomiting and bedwetting. But soon, Jacob began to have more alarming symptoms like numbness and seizures. After several visits to emergency care, a Cat scan  was ordered and a mass the size of a tennis ball was found on Jacob’s brain.


The next several weeks were like a whirlwind of emotions for Alyssa and her husband, Ryan. During the surgery to remove the tumor, Jacob had a stroke that now affects his ability to move the left side of his body. He also lost partial vision in both eyes.

Two weeks following the surgery, Jacob began chemotherapy treatments. The intensity of the chemo left Jacob with partial hearing loss, as well. Fortunately, after nine long and scary months in the hospital, Jacob finally came home this spring.

Since that time, Jacob has continued to heal, grow and learn a new way of being a kid. With the money raised from a yard sale fundraiser, Alyssa was even able to purchase Jacob a rehab bicycle that he rides almost daily. “I am so amazed by his positive spirit,” says Alyssa. “He inspires me everyday.”

As so often happens in cases like this, Alyssa had to quit her job to care for Jacob throughout his journey. This loss of income along with all of the additional medical bills and travel expenses dramatically changed the Will family’s lifestyle. Ryan’s father, Mike Will, suggested they contact Sherry’s Run. As a staff member at the Lebanon Democrat, Mike was familiar with the stories of so many patients that had been assisted by this local grassroots non-profit.

“Sherry’s Run saved us!” says Alyssa. “They gave me the comfort of knowing I could feed my family each week.” With Jacob and his sister both starting back to school, Alyssa was also able to buy their needed supplies and clothes because of the support they received. Jacob is now receiving rehab through his school and is making amazing progress.

“Jacob’s sweet smile and infectious spirit have truly inspired me!” says Tonyia Watson, Director of Patient Assistance for Sherry’s Run. “Your registration fees make it possible for us to serve precious families like this one.”

Sherry’s Run challenges you to be the inspiration for your neighbors battling cancer by registering for the twelfth annual Sherry’s Run.

Corrie Cluck

Faith, courage, optimism and a desire to help others were qualities that defined Sharon “Sherry” Patterson Whitaker. Both before and after the energetic wife and mother was diagnosed with colon cancer, the impression she made on her family, friends and community was undeniable. While her battle in the flesh was lost in 2004, the spirit she had shown throughout life continues to touch more lives every day. Because of Sherry’s Run, a 5K run/walk benefit organized in Sherry’s memory, area cancer victims and their families can make strides toward becoming cancer survivors, and researchers are a small step closer to stopping the disease for good.