Ashland Rallies Around Jake

Cynthia Whitty
Jake and his sister Halle (Photo/supplied)
Issue Date: 
February, 2019
Article Body: 

Fundraising activities remain in full swing for 18-year-old Jake Silver, who was diagnosed in 2016 with osteosarcoma, an aggressive form of bone cancer.
A friend of the Silver family, Leslie Marci, has been one of the many Ashland residents helping the family. Soon after Jake was diagnosed in 2016, Marci set up a GoFundMe page.
“A lot of people were asking what they could do for the family,” Marci said. She also set up a Team Silver page on Facebook to provide information and updates on Jake’s condition.
On the GoFundMe page, Marci tells about Jake, who was an active high school student who loved athletics: going to the beach, surfing, and playing basketball or any sport with his friends. “He had just gotten his learner’s permit and was looking forward to getting his license in September [2016]. . . . Jake was a good student, and the kicker on the high school football team. Football was his passion and he planned on attending kicking camp this summer, maybe even hoping to be a kicker on a college football team.”
According to Marci, Jake’s Mom, Melissa, was initially reluctant [about the need for fundraising].
“She said they had good medical coverage, and wanted to wait and see. We talked some more after meetings with Jake’s team of doctors, and she gave the go-ahead to set up the account for several reasons,” Marci said. “First, she would not be able to work or go to school while he was getting surgery and treatment so there would be a loss of income. Second, Jake was going to have surgery to get a medical knee replacement implant. At some point in his future, he might need another surgery if the implant needed to be replaced. Lastly, there were going to be smaller costs like parking and tolls to get in to the city for his frequent follow-up visits. So the GoFundMe account was set up, and within a short amount of time it had raised $12,000. That amount eventually made it to $20,000 and then stalled for a while.”
About two years ago, a neighbor, Julie Tallman, purchased orange “Silverstrong” wristbands. The orange wristbands (Jake’s favorite color) were distributed around town, and at one point all the kids in Ashland High School, the teachers, and even the school administrators were wearing one. People from other towns and football teams were requesting them.
“It was a great visual for Jake to see that people everywhere were thinking of him,” Marci said.
Jake’s sister Halle sent an Instagram message to a bunch of Ohio State Football players (Jake’s favorite college team). Ezekiel Elliott, who now plays for the Dallas Cowboys, responded to Jake and Halle and asked if he could wear the Silverstrong wristband. Ezekiel still wears that wristband to every game, and last fall [Oct 2018] flew the entire family out to watch a Cowboys football game.
When word got out that Ezekiel Elliott was wearing Jake’s wristband, the story got national newspaper coverage and Jake’s GoFundMe account doubled, to about $40,000. People from all around the country, who didn’t even know Jake, were donating to his cause.
In the fall of 2016, Marci organized the first Jimmy Fund walk team, the Silverstrong Cancer Kickers.
“Our team consisted of family and close friends, and we raised $21,000,” Marci said. “The following year 2017, Jake and Halle became the team captains and named the team ‘Team Silverstrong.’ That year we raised $35,000 and Jake and Halle won an award from Dana Farber as Best New Team Captains, as the team raised the most donations for a new team. In 2018, Team Silverstrong once again walked the Jimmy Fund Walk and raised $36,000.”
In January, the Silvers received devastating news that Jake’s cancer was terminal and he had 3-6 months to live.
“Jake’s GoFundMe page turned from a way to defray medical costs, to a way to help him achieve some of his lifelong dreams. People have generously donated thousands of dollars, many people from around the country who don’t even know him,” Marci said.
Recently, Amaris Pena, Karen Dunn, Vicky Feenstra, Leslie Erikson, Janis-Lynn Ford and Marci organized a fundraiser, Silverstrong Orange Bows for mailboxes.
“Amaris met with Talvy Bros. Florist, who ordered ribbon and designed a bow that could be placed on the post of mailboxes,” Marci said. “The bows cost $20. We started selling them Thursday [Jan. 10]. We want Jake to drive anywhere around the town and see that everyone is thinking of him and hoping for the best. Talvy’s is donating their costs and time to make the ribbons.”
“We have over 300 bows committed so far! Hoping to paint the town silver-orange!” Pena said.
To order a ribbon or donate to Jake’s bucket list: Use Venmo ([email protected] or amaris-pena-2), Paypal ([email protected]), or checks or cash (email [email protected]).
“We have a pretty amazing town,” Marci said.