Our classmate and friend
Jared McMullen was diagnosed with an incurable brainstem tumor in 1999. He carried a backpack full of toys and games to all appointments and questioned why the other children didn’t bring toys to their exam rooms. Jared shared his toys and invited the other children to join him in a game of UNO. At just 5 years old, he demonstrated faith, wisdom and compassion for others.
The joy of play
“Playing UNO is a favorite memory for my family,” says Jared’s mother, Ruth. “We can hear Jared’s backward laugh, remember him laughing so hard he wet his pants and how he threatened that anyone who cheated had to clean the toilets! Jared was adamant about playing fair. Unfortunately, cancer doesn’t play fair.”
“You’ll be in my Heart”
Jared’s battle ended on November 12, 2000, while listening to his favorite song, “You’ll Be In My Heart” by Phil Collins, who became aware of Jared and sent a heartfelt letter. Jared’s classmates at Our Lady of Victory School sought to honor his memory and created boxes filled with toys for the patients at Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital. What was intended as a one-time project has grown into a nonprofit that reaches into the hearts of children and their families across 50 states.
“We are sorry to hear about Jared’s passing. What a wonderful way to keep his ideals and spirit alive. We wish you success with the Jared Box Project!”
“Think of one of your happiest childhood moments,” says Ruth. “Chances are it involved play — whether it was a favorite vacation, special toy, or time spent with family and friends. A Jared Box is the gift of play to children in the hospital. With your help, the efforts of the Jared Box Project will continue to give ill children the gift of play, well wishes, hope and love.”