Jessie Joy Rees was a remarkable girl who lived and loved with an energy and enthusiasm that belied her young age. Despite a devastating diagnosis of an inoperable brain tumor in December 2011, Jessie remained positive and upbeat, even as she endured a grueling clinical trial that included 30 rounds of radiation and daily chemotherapy.
Three weeks into her treatment, Jessie asked her parents how she could help other sick children in the hospital who were less fortunate than she was. Her answer was to create JoyJars, 64-ounce plastic jars filled to the brim with new games, toys, and activities for kids fighting cancer.
“JoyJars are named for Jessie, whose middle name was Joy. She adored making the jars and handing them out at hospitals,” said Jessie’s dad, Erik Rees. Sadly, Jessie lost her fight with cancer less than a year after her diagnosis, but she had managed to make over 3,000 JoyJars while fighting cancer.
Her family has continued her work through the non-profit organization they founded called NEGU (short for Jessie’s personal motto: “Never ever give up”). To date, more than 400,000 JoyJars have been delivered to child cancer patients in all 50 states and more than 50 countries, spreading joy and kindness to children who are battling cancer.
In 2023, Spire Motorsports, a NASCAR team, announced that they will be the primary sponsor for the Jessie Rees Foundation for the year. Spire Motorsports driver Corey LaJoie, as part of TeamNEGU, hopes the partnership will raise awareness and help children battling cancer to “Never Ever Give Up.”
Corey takes his partnership with NEGU seriously and is honored to be a part of an organization that spreads joy. Every time he meets a cancer patient and their family, he thinks of his own two sons and leaves behind a little bit of joy with every JoyJar he delivers.
The partnership between NEGU and Spire Motorsports is especially meaningful to Corey because his last name is pronounced “la-JOY.”
In Jessie’s legacy, every child’s smile is a reminder that we can all make a difference in the world, one JoyJar at a time.