Bothell’s Jaimeson Jones: an inspiration to all
By TIM WATANABE
Bothell Reporter Reporter
March 11, 2011 · Updated 10:07 AM
When the Bothell High community lost 20-year-old Jaimeson Jones to cancer on Oct. 7, 2010, he left behind a legacy of perseverance and achievement that inspired everyone around him. Now, the memory of Jones’ life will be used to help others in need.
On March 12, the inaugural Jaimeson Jones Memorial 5K Run/Walk will be held at Saint Edward State Park in Kenmore to raise funds for the newly created Jaimeson Jones Memorial Scholarship Fund. All proceeds will go toward scholarships for students who have or have had a sibling with cancer.
“Jaimeson had very little money when he died, but he left all of it to his younger sisters to help with their college expenses,” explained Jones’ stepmother, Nancy Balin, who put together the fund. “His six years of cancer took a huge financial toll on his family, so that is how I got to who the recipients should be for the scholarships.”
Jones was diagnosed with testicular cancer at just 14 years of age, in January of 2005. An accomplished runner, he just finished the fall with the second-best time for a freshman cross-country athlete in the district.
A grueling set of four rounds of surgeries and four rounds of chemotherapy followed, leaving him barely able to walk, much less run, by the time his sophomore year of high school rolled around.
Jones met with his high-school counselor, Darrell Lee, who just happened to be the cross-country coach for the Cougars, and, along with assistant coach Robert Eichelsdoerfer, encouraged Jones to sign up.
“Cross-country really saved him through his recovery because people were really supportive, and he was able to get some strength back,” Balin said. “He was captain for two years. It really enlarged his social life and made him feel stronger, and normal.”
In his sophomore year, Jones made it a goal to complete a cross-country race without stopping, which he accomplished in the final home meet of the year.
“He finished his treatment and had all of his four surgeries,” recalled Balin, who waited at the finish line with Jones’ friends and family. “He was able to run 5,000 meters without stopping, after having been through four rounds of chemo and four major surgeries. It was so inspiring, we were all in tears. It was incredible.”
Jones would continue to run, until the heartbreaking news in 2009 that his cancer had returned, as he was completing his freshman year at Washington State University. By the end of 2010, after over 18 months of treatment, all medical options had been exhausted.
Jones never gave up his fight, and continued to live life to the fullest, including taking a whirlwind tour of Europe last February with his girlfriend, sister and cousin, until the the disease took his life.
“Cancer was something that totally changed him in maturity, he was light years ahead of other people his age, both for what he went through at 14, 15 years of age and again at 19,” Balin commented. “But he never used it to get anything, he didn’t want people to feel sorry for him. It was something he was going to get through. He wanted to get back to his regular life, that was his attitude.”
A PASSION FOR RUNNING
Jones loved to run in the rain, and his favorite place to do it was the peaceful trails of Saint Edward State Park.
“He would come home after running in the rain and say, ‘Isn’t it so beautiful out?,’” Balin recalled. “He would be so happy.”
Now the Bothell community will get a chance to celebrate Jones’ life for a great cause.
With the help of coach Eichelsdoerfer, who is now at Juanita High in Kirkland, and local sponsors such as the FedEx office in Bothell that printed 50 posters “at their own cost,” according to Balin, and Mr. T’s Trophies in Kenmore, which has agreed to donate green ribbons for the event, the event is ready to go for March 12, which is two days before what would have been Jones’ 21st birthday, March 14.
“I was fortunate to be able to coach this outstanding young man throughout his high-school career,” Eichelsdoerfer said. “His family hopes that this will become an annual event.”
Balin hopes that the event will raise $10,000 to get the memorial fund started.
“Local students who have had siblings with cancer, or who are in remission from cancer... either way, the family has totally been hit in the gut as far as their finances,” she said, adding that the idea for this event began on the day of Jones’ celebration of life last October. “That morning, we had a run at Saint Ed’s, a little 5K that the coach set up. I thought I wanted to do this every year, on his birthday... and make it a fund-raiser.”
To register for the run, go to www.active.com, type in Jaimeson Jones in the search box, and follow the link to the registration page. To make a donation to Jaimeson’s fund, visit the 5K Web site or send a check to Nancy Balin, P.O. Box 1833, Bothell, WA 98041.
Saint Edward State Park is located at 14445 Juanita Drive N.E. in Kenmore.
For more information, contact Balin at (206) 550-9570.