BOISE-- Jessie Rees was just twelve years old when she lost her battle with brain cancer. She passed away in January of this year. Jessie's middle name was Joy, and that name couldn't be more fitting for her.
Before she died, Jessie came up with the idea of stuffing jars full of joy and giving them to cancer patients just like her.
Jessie's father promised her he would spread her dream around the world. He is doing just that with the Jessie Rees Foundation. He flew from his home state of California to Boise this week to give JoyJars to the kids at St. Luke's Children's Hospital.
Her middle name was Joy, so joy and jar just go together. When people say what do you do? I say I get to put smiles on people's faces. Erik Rees, Jessie's father.
This dedicated dad is bringing his JoyJars filled with toys and activities to kids fighting cancer and other deadly illnesses.
'Never, ever give up' was Jessie's motto. It's also now the official name of the Jessie Rees' foundation. Jessie's dad hands out wrist bands, and t-shirts with that message. Visiting hospitals reminds him of his daughter, and how much she loved to spread joy.
I know I'm doing what my daughter wanted me to do, and I'm proud to be her dad, and I'm proud to help these families and kids, Rees said.
Thanks to the work of the Jessie Rees Foundation, JoyJars have been handed out at over 160 children's hospitals, 175 Ronald McDonald houses, and have reached 11 countries.
Our goal is to give out 50,000 JoyJars this year, and we're on pace to do that, Rees told KTVB.
Each time he meets a new child, as emotional as it is, Rees is as strong as he can be -- for Jessie.
I know that if Jess would say something, she'd say 'Keep going,' and she would say 'Great job Dad,' Rees said. And she'd give me one of her big hugs. I leave going back to California with a heart full of joy and I'll remember every one of their smiles.
What's the next stop for this dedicated dad? Rees will go to yet another children's hospital to meet more kids who need a little joy.