John Gray High School students have raised more than $1,200 to help purchase a prosthetic leg for an 11-year-old boy in Westmoreland, Jamaica, whose limb was amputated after he was diagnosed with bone cancer in 2020.
“We heard about young Javier Forrester from one of our club advisors, and we immediately felt like there was something that we had to do about it,” said Abigail Rose, the deputy president of the school’s Junior Optimist International Club, who were responsible for organising the fundraising efforts.
Rose said the group decided the best way to help would be to raise funds to assist with Forrester’s medical and recovery expenses. So, they divided the tasks among themselves and got to work.
“We had crazy hat days, pizza parties, M&M sales, tutorial collections, and so much more to help engage the entire school and collect as much money as we could,” said Rose.
“Although we don’t know him, it could have been any of us, and we were glad to be able to help.”
Forrester was diagnosed with osteosarcoma on 29 Sept. 2020 and, two days later, doctors amputated his leg, because they discovered the cancer had spread from the bone into the surrounding muscle tissue.
“It happened so fast, we hardly had time to process it,” said Ieshia Vickers, Forrester’s mother, who describes him as “the perfect child”.
Vickers told the Cayman Compass, “When the doctors told him they couldn’t save his leg, he cried a little and then told me, ‘Mommy I want to live, so please cut it off,’ and my heart broke”.
She added: “I couldn’t sign the papers, so my husband had to”.
Ieshia said cancer runs in the family, but it normally affects the older generation, so they were all surprised that Forrester was diagnosed at the age of 10.
“When we heard about the money the students raised for our son, tears ran down my face,” Vickers said. “To think that, in these hard times, strangers would go into their pockets to help someone they have never met, has left me with an overwhelming feeling of joy and happiness.”
The students presented the money to Elaine Harris, Jamaica’s Honorary Vice Consul to the Cayman Islands, who received the funds on behalf of Forrester’s family.
“The donation gives me hope that there are kind, selfless people in our world, and in the upcoming generations,” said Harris. “I know it will lift young Javier’s spirits as well as his family’s.”
During their fundraising efforts for Javier, the students were also alerted about the plight of Junyah Gauntlet, another child who also has cancer. So far, they have raised $750 and that amount is expected to increase.