It took all she had for Lindsey Myers to pull up a chair at Starbucks and talk about her daughter, Jordyn.
Some days, Lindsey just wants to stay in bed. She forces herself to move forward day to day, to tell Jordyn’s story and to do the hard work running a foundation she created in Jordyn’s memory.
On a recent morning, she met at Starbucks because she wanted Jordyn’s story to be recognized as part of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September. The Jackson Township mom brought a friend for emotional support. Doing this work sometimes feels impossible. But she said it makes her feel close to her only daughter, who died last October.
Jordyn was 13, an artist and an athlete, an old soul who listened to the Beatles and filled notebooks with poetry and drawings. She was a trusted older sister and a hero to Logan, 11. She wanted to go to Yale, to be an engineer and a writer. She traveled the states playing fast-pitch softball. She wore No. 33 and played third base.
“She was so small in size, she blew people away with all that could come out of her little body,” Lindsey wrote in her blog on 33jordynstrong.org.
Last September, Jordyn was diagnosed with leukemia. She was strong and optimistic that she would undergo treatment and come out of it fine. Lindsey and her husband, Jared, were confident, too. The treatment success rate is high for children like Jordyn with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). But while undergoing chemotherapy, Jordyn developed rare complications and infections her body couldn’t fight. Lindsey said when Jordyn died on Oct. 10, she lost her best friend.
In her sorrow, Lindsey founded the 33 Jordynstrong Foundation to raise money for kids like Jordyn and their families, and for research into alternative treatments that could help future patients. The foundation also plans to provide 3 annual scholarships to a student athlete, an engineering major and a leukemia survivor.
“We want to support kids who come out on the other side, and we want to have grants for families who come home to an empty room,” she said, explaining that many parents need financial support in order to grieve as they wish, without worrying about jobs and paying bills.
In its first campaign, the foundation collected fuzzy socks for children in the hospital. They chose fuzzy socks because Jordyn loved them. Softball teams from all over the country pitched in. The foundation collected 6,000 pair, which it donated to 11 hospitals in 6 states.
The foundation also had a gift-card drive for patient families, and a book drive that netted more than 3,000 books for children’s hospitals. Local schools and organizations have held or are planning to hold fundraisers for the foundation, including a memorial softball tournament, a polar plunge and basketball shoot-a-thon.
On Nov. 8, the organization will host its first Black & White Gala at The Historic Onesto in Canton.
Lindsey said her family has been overwhelmed by the community’s support. When Jordyn was in the hospital, her friends honored her love of llamas by creating llama signs and a calendar to surprise her when she got home.
“She never got to see it,” Lindsey said. “It’s amazing what they did for her, how much her friends love her.”
Lindsey said she endeavors to be strong because that’s what Jordyn would want.
“I have to do something. Most days I’d rather stay in bed and cry about that empty room. But that wouldn’t be what she wants.”
Once a week, she posts on social media thoughts from Jordyn, a collection of famous quotes she found among the writings in Jordyn’s notebooks.
“Do one thing every day that scares you,” said one recent post, quoting Eleanor Roosevelt.
Lindsey frequently shares her own thoughts and feelings online, expressing her struggle to go through the daily paces of life.
“I don’t know how to go anywhere without her. Her absence and her empty seat and her empty room is beyond loud and heartbreaking. Her missing voice and smile and laughter devastate me every single second.”
“I loved her the moment I met her,” she said. “She was beautiful inside and out.”