On Sunday, a nine-year-old boy died whose struggle against terminal cancer triggered tens of thousands of Christmas cards after his family asked people to “fast forward” Christmas because he had so little time left.
Jacob Thompson was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma when he was five years old. He was admitted to the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland, Maine, on October 11, where doctors discovered that the neuroblastoma had spread to his head and was incurable.
In early November, over 100 police cruisers from departments across New England caravanned to Portland to drive by so Jacob could see them.
Jacob and his parents celebrated Christmas on November 12.
A GoFundMe page was started for Jacob; his mother, Michelle Thomson Simard, wrote that the family was "told that we should be spending as much time as possible with him and we should start making arrangements for his passing. No one thinks about having to do this type of planning for their child and because of that we did not nor do not have life insurance on him.”
By Monday, the GoFundMe campaign had raised nearly $160,000 to pay for Jacob’s funeral.
After his death, Jacob’s family wrote to the public on Facebook:
Each and every person who sent Jacob a Christmas card, a gift, a Facebook message or video, or a prayer made a difference in the final days of his life. You brought Jacob joy, and you brought us all optimism for the future. Thank you for taking the time, and taking an interest in our sweet boy’s journey. Sadly, there are many others like him that we hope you will continue to help.
According to NECN, Jacob received over 10,000 cards a day from strangers. He received mail from former First Lady Barbara Bush and the New England Patriots as well as a video greeting from actor Rob Lowe and the cast of “Code Black”:
Jacob’s favorite animal was the penguin; thus he received a card from a yellow-eye penguin rescue in New Zealand, and Mystic Aquarium brought real-life penguins to visit him at the hospital. His family has asked the public to donate to Operation Gratitude or a penguin rescue group. His stepmother told CNN, “We’d like people to live life like a penguin, and by that we mean dive into life, find warmth among friends, stay cool and just give to others.”