The outpouring of love and support that Jessica Wells received during her battle with cancer, which has touched so many of us in one way or another, inspired her to start the Wishing Wells Cancer Foundation and positively impact as many young people battling cancer as she could.
The mission the Wells undertook when she started her foundation was for Wishing Wells to provide some measure of financial assistance and emotional support for young adults (21 - 39) who are fighting cancer. For Wells, being there for someone going through the same ups and downs that she did is one of the most important things we could do to help those suffering with a terrible illness.
“Cancer has obviously spread so you ultimately know someone who has had cancer and it has affected everyone in some way,” said Wells. ”I think that just hearing people's stories of ‘hey, I have a friend who is too humble to reach out to you but I want you to know that they might not need assistance but just someone to talk to,’ has been a big part of it.”
“At least once a month I’ll receive emails and phone calls and then I’ll reach out through Facebook or on the phone. I don’t want to overstep my boundaries but I want to let them know that one of their friends reached out to me and that I’ve been in their shoes. It’s hard to find someone else in their 20’s who’s gone through the same situation and had the same thoughts and feelings and fears.”
“People that I’ve met along the way and finding out that they haven’t won their battle just reminds me how important this is. The support in the beginning is overwhelming but survivorship has been the hardest part overall. You need that support group and someone to talk to because it can become overwhelming when you’re by yourself.”
For just over a year and a half, Jessica Wells has been cancer free. She recently gave birth to a healthy baby boy which surprised doctors.
“Doctors were shocked,” said Wells. “Of course, they watched me very closely but everything went great though, and I delivered a very, very healthy baby boy.”
Since last year’s event, Wells has been focused on reaching people and building support within the community where she can grow the foundation and do the most good.
“In the first couple years we really want to focus on one large event every year and see how the community reacted to it and we certainly have gotten the support we were looking for,” said Wells. “We’ve gotten ideas and people have reached out to us about doing different events, and that’s definitely in the future plans, but this year, because last year’s Party in the Park was such a huge success, we wanted to do it again and add a few different elements to it to try and draw more people.”
“We switched it to a Friday night this year instead of a Thursday night so we’ll be able to go a little later into the evening,” Wells said. “We’ve added Mr. Funnyman (band) who has a huge following and they’re an 8-person band who will be playing from 7pm-10pm. They play anything from classic rock to oldies to modern.”
“Last year, the Valpo Dining Group each individually did attend but this year they kind of collectively are going to put together some food for us and we’ll have volunteers to sell it and we’ll get the profits from that. Our beer garden is where we made a lot of our money last year so hopefully people come to drink and have a good time again this year!”
Over the last year, the attention that Wishing Wells Cancer Foundation has received through Facebook and their website has been growing and encouraging as well.
“I’ve had people reach out to me from North Carolina and Colorado,” said Wells. “Even just from the event I’ve had people reach out and not even asking for assistance but thanking me and our board members for putting together the event and the Foundation because everyone knows someone who’s had cancer. That’s essentially what’s behind our logo -- Cancer affects everyone.”
Admission to this year’s Party in the Park is free and as Wells put it, ‘everybody loves a live band,’ so they’ll be looking to top last year and the incredibly successful opening event that Wishing Wells Cancer Foundation hosted, which raised $16k.
Wishing Wells Cancer Foundation’s 2nd Annual Party In The Park will be held on Friday August 19th, 2016 at Central Park Plaza, Home to the Porter Health Amphitheater and the William E. Urschel Pavilion from 6pm - 10pm in Valparaiso, IN.
To find out more about Wishing Wells Cancer Foundation and their upcoming event, go to: http://wishingwellscancerfoundation.org/ or visit their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/wishingwellscancerfoundation.