Help the children of Jeff Griffis!
My brother Jeff was the kind of guy that made everyone a little happier when he was around. Always smiling, goofing around… making you feel good about yourself. And he LOVED his kids! He could never say enough about how much he loved and enjoyed them, and how proud he was of them.
Sadly, cancer has stolen Jeff from this world; and left all of us with a hole in our hearts that can never be filled. This has hit particularly hard, of course, for his wife Julie and their three children – DJ, Garrett, and Rylee. In addition to the unimaginable loss of Jeff, they now face the very real financial difficulties that cancer leaves behind in these tragic situations.
To begin, let me quickly introduce you to Jeff’s kids (and be sure to check the photos section):
- DJ (19) is a great, caring young man with a tremendous passion and talent for skateboarding.
- Garrett (17) is a hockey fanatic who loves the Chicago Blackhawks and is the captain of his youth hockey team.
- Rylee (14) is a red-headed spitfire who loves hamming it up; on stage or anywhere she gets the chance to act, sing, or dance.
All of Jeff’s children loved their dad tremendously; and all of them need all the *love, support, and encouragement* we can give them.
The full story is below, but my simple plea and request is that you PLEASE help support Jeff’s kids with donations to a Memorial Trust that I set up expressly for that purpose. I wholeheartedly promise that EVERY PENNY of this trust will go to providing the essentials that Jeff would want for his kids.
Perhaps the most significant need from a long term perspective is the education of the children. College is in the very near future, and there is only the beginnings of small 529 plans; not nearly enough to get 3 kids through college! Just covering the basic expenses of 3 teenage children is going to be extremely difficult for Julie; there is no realistic way to provide funding for college and other major expenses (medical bills, etc.). Unless we all help…
The Journey (some background and perspective)
Cancer first entered the picture in early 2012; Jeff was 43 at the time. It didn’t seem real to any of us, of course; and Jeff vowed to fight it with everything he had. And he did fight for over 3 long years… endless rounds of chemo treatments that got progressively more difficult, doctor appointments, tests… Any of you that have dealt with cancer know all too well the nightmare that it is for the person with cancer and their family.
As I first thought of ways to support Jeff, my primary goal was to provide him support in his fight. I joined the Livestrong team for a Half Ironman in April 2012; and Jeff really seemed to enjoy and be encouraged by that (even took up some light biking and running himself). We talked about the training and race strategy leading up to the race, and it led to an ongoing synergy between my triathlon racing and training and his fight with cancer. That may not make sense to some, but it somehow became something for us to share. In August 2012, my sister Jonna and I even traveled to the Knoxville area to do a triathlon - and Jeff and the entire family came out and cheered us on. I’ll never forget running towards the finish line along a concrete path, and hearing Jeff on the hill above yelling at the top of his lungs and encouraging me; then racing ahead to the finish line so he could give out high fives and hugs.
Over time, the prognosis was becoming worse; and I started thinking about what else I could do to support Jeff and his family. Knowing his tremendous love and devotion for his kids, I eventually settled on the idea of creating a trust and raising funds to help provide for his children. Jeff was already worrying about their future and the ongoing financial drain the cancer was causing; and I was determined to do whatever could to help.
Those two elements of triathlon and a trust for the kids came together, and I decided to enter the 2015 Ironman Chattanooga race (to be held Sep 27, 2015). I knew that Jeff would get a kick out of a huge event like that, and I wanted to use the Ironman as a way to raise additional awareness and funds for the trust. My dad, stepmom, sister Heather/ and her husband Will all live near there; and I was hoping some of the other family and siblings would make it out as well. One big giant family event to show support for Jeff and his family! 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking, and a 26.2 mile marathon run done in Jeff’s honor…
Continuing the Fight
Sadly, on April 14, 2015; Jeff’s war with cancer came to an end and he left us and went on to brighten up heaven. It was earlier than we had hoped or expected - he had actually just finished his final radiation treatment that was supposed to give him a little pain relief for the final part of his journey. We take some comfort in the fact that he is now in heaven and the suffering is over; but there is also much grieving in the loss.
With realities now setting in, I am more passionate and determined than ever to follow through on this Memorial Trust and do everything in my power to ensure a bright future for Jeff’s children. And the Ironman is still on, with lots of family and friends there to celebrate Jeff’s life. We’ll be the large, crazy group wearing “Jeff Griffis” shirts with the photo you see at the top of this page.
YOU can help!
Here’s where YOU get involved… I am asking you to PLEASE do these things to help support Jeff’s kids:
- SHARE: Let others know of Jeff’s story and the opportunity to help his children. A simple posting of this link on Facebook and other social media can go a long way and reach people beyond what you even imagine.
- PRAY: For Jeff’s family and friends, and especially for his wife Julie and their kids: DJ, Garrett, and Rylee.
- DONATE: Every little bit counts, really! Even the smallest donation sends a message of love and support!
Thank you all for your support, love, prayers, and encouragement!
Offline Donations can be made to:
Jeffrey Griffis Memorial Trust
PO Box 52493
Knoxville, TN 37950–2493