Have you ever heard of Jonathan's Jedi? If not you're about to. Jonathan Harris is like most 12 year old boys. The Botetourt County seventh grader likes to play sports and video games, but this middle school student is also a cancer survivor.
"My son Jonathan was diagnosed in 2007 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia,," said Jonathan's mother, Stephanie Harris. He immediately began intensive treatment.
"The first six months were very hard but once we got through that he kind of got on what they call maintenance therapy. He kind of got back to his old self," said Harris.
Jonathan continued receiving chemotherapy for three and half years until December 2010. These days Jonathan is feeling great. We caught up with him as he played basketball in the driveway at the family home.
"He's doing fantastic," said Harris. "Good student in school, active, likes all the things boys like to do, being with his friends playing video games."
He also loves Star Wars. It's his favorite movie and he even has a light saber in his bedroom. Jonathan demonstrated how it works. "You just flip this switch and it'll light up and if you hit it on something it'll make a noise so I act like I'm a Jedi," said Jonathan.
That love of Star Wars is how the name Jonathan's Jedi was born. When the Harris family formed a Relay for Life team in 2008 to raise money for the American Cancer Society it seemed the perfect name.
"It was kind of just to raise money since I battled cancer and went through it and survived it," Jonathan Harris said.
The family is now preparing for its second annual food tasting event that will be held this weekend in Daleville. They've also walked in the Relay for Life event for seven years and their neighbors are also pitching in.
Pink flamingos sit in one neighbor's front yard along with a Jonathan's Jedi sign. In order to move those flamingos to another yard, each family must make a donation to Relay for Life. Many neighbors have given more than we expected, said Stephanie Harris.
"It makes you feel very positive and have hope," said Stephanie Harris. Everyday we hear of someone who has developed cancer, Harris explained. "It's heart breaking but I think at the same time I think people are living longer and longer."
Harris believes it's because of some of the things that Relay for Life Teams are doing as they raise money to fund cancer research.
"When you're out there among all of those people who are having that common goal it's a good feeling," said Stephanie Harris. "My big word has always been hope and I think that brings it out. "
Jonathan Harris simply put it this way. "It's kind of like this happened to me. I want to do something about it ."'
Jonathan's Jedi Events
Food Tasting, St. Mark's Methodist Church, Daleville Saturday, March 22, 2014 11am-2pm Admission: $8.00 per person. $25.00 for a family of four. Includes tastings of several entries in categories of meat, wings, and desserts. A hot dog lunch will also be served
Relay for Life, Buchanan Fair Grounds, Saturday, May 31, 2014
Over the past seven years, Jonathan's Jedi has raised $25,000 for Botetourt Co. Relay for Life.
Jonathan's favorite Star Wars Movie? Number Four