We are proud to announce that one of this year’s LifeListers has had their wish fulfilled!
Zach is a 21 year old senior at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) working towards his degree in video game design and development. On September 13, 2022, he was rushed to the hospital after vomiting and passing out. Multiple tests showed a mass in his heart that was restricting blood flow back into his body. Further tests confirmed that his cancer, rhabdomyosarcoma, was back for the third time. He was first diagnosed at eight years old, just eight months after his dad passed away, and then he had a relapse at age 15. Unfortunately, this time the cancer is even more serious because tumors in the heart are rare and extremely dangerous. He spent three months in the hospital which took a toll on him and his mother. His first chemo treatments did not work, so he has just completed 29 rounds of radiation and is starting on a new chemo regimen.
Zach’s LifeList wish was to work on his dream project – a form of animation to help children dealing with health issues and grief. On April 1st and 2nd, the Dear Jack Foundation, in conjunction with RIT, came together to make Zach’s wish come true! We hosted a game jam competition, called Jam for Hope, where groups of students came together to create a video game or animation.
The video games and animations were designed with children and young adults with cancer in mind as a way to give them hope during hard times. Zach said, “The theme of Jam for Hope is to create something that will motivate and uplift kids and young adults facing illness and grief. We want to inspire them to get through the most difficult times in their lives by bringing powerful inspiration, support, and the knowledge that they can be strong, they can be vulnerable, but they can be heroes, too.” Students created five games for Jam for Hope, which can be seen below.
The Jam for Hope turnout was so great that it even made local news. Check out those articles here, here and here! Zach hopes that the Jam for Hope event will push “game developers, creators and big companies to realize what their games and animations do for other people and hopefully they continue to create this.”
We are overjoyed to have been a part of Zach’s wish. Your contributions to our foundation helps us continue to help others like Zach make their dreams come true. You can donate to our LifeListers today at https://give.dearjackfoundation.org/give/162678/#!/donation/checkout.