By NEMS Daily Journal
Jon-Michael Northington owes St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital his life, and he’s saying thanks in a tangible way.
The recent Hatley High School graduate was diagnosed in June 2011 with a very rare form of brain cancer called PNET/High Grade Glioma. He was only the fourth adolescent nationally along with 52 adults to be diagnosed with the disease.
He spent the next several months in the hospital for surgeries or in clinics for treatments, most of that time at St. Jude’s in Memphis. He lost 50 pounds and, as he wrote in a recent article in the Monroe Journal, “encountered many, many hard days and nights.”
But he started school his senior year and was healthy enough to play baseball this spring, as well as graduate with his class. He’s enrolled at Itawamba Community College for the fall.
“I see life differently now,” he wrote. “I have so much more compassion and thank God for the small things. I am so thankful for the miracle I have witnessed. I thank God every day that he placed me in the hands of St. Jude.”
St. Jude doesn’t turn away patients who can’t pay and depends mostly on private contributions for its $1.7 million daily operating costs.
Northington decided he wanted to help, and he recently completed a 3,000-mile motorcyle ride to the 72nd Annual Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, S.D. He’s soliciting donations on behalf of St. Jude’s in conjunction with the South Dakota ride.
To contribute send a check to any Renasant Bank made out to St. Jude, with the note “Sturgis Ride Fundraiser.” The account is in Northington’s name.
“I’m dedicated to letting everyone know what a wonderful place St. Jude’s is and what great things happen there,” he wrote. “They are called ‘Miracles’ and I am one of them.”
Northington hopes to have all donations by Aug. 24 so he can present a check to St. Jude with a list of donors when he goes for a follow-up checkup on Aug. 27.