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BumbleBee Foundation

In April 2009, our almost 3-year-old son Jarren became very ill with what we thought was the flu. After four days of relentless flu-like symptoms, we went to the emergency room where he was given IV fluids for severe dehydration and tested positive for Rotavirus. Once home, his Rotavirus symptoms stopped but he never seemed to fully recover. We noticed that his stomach was bloated, his fingers and toes were cold and he spiked fevers intermittently. This didn’t set well with us or his doctor so we were sent a couple times to the hospital for blood work, X-rays and ultimately a CT Scan.

A CT scan revealed a mass on Jarren’s liver, and with that news we immediately found ourselves in the emergency room at UCLA. After a traumatic night, a room was found for us on the pediatric floor. One day later, further tests and a liver biopsy confirmed the suspicion of cancer. Specifically, hepatoblastoma – a solid pediatric liver cancer with a one-in-a-million diagnosis.

“Your son has cancer.” Four words a parent never expects to hear. Four words that rock you to your core and bring you to your knees. Four words that change your life forever.

We received a crash course in the oncology world and what would become our second home – the hospital. Instead of the first-time Disneyland trip we had eagerly anticipated and purchased tickets for, Jarren’s third birthday was spent shaving what was left of his beautiful brown locks so the clumps that fell out wouldn’t be so traumatic for him. Despite this and the many other side effects to come, Jarren was a champion through chemotherapy.

In November of that year, Jarren finished his last dose of chemo and we had so much to be thankful for. However, our joy was short-lived as his cancer metastasized and within two months we found our son fighting an even bigger beast. Every month the news continued to worsen despite more surgeries and different chemotherapies.

For his fourth birthday, Jarren finally made it to see and experience Disney and meet his favorite character, Buzz Lightyear. At the urging of his oncologist, and with the help of the incredible Make-A-Wish Foundation, our entire family traveled to Disney World for Jarren’s Wish Trip. So many smiles and lifelong memories were made during that trip, but the reality of his cancer was relentless and on Nov. 1, 2010, our sweet boy lost his battle with cancer and earned his angel wings.

When Jarren was diagnosed, we had only recently moved to the Conejo Valley. However, throughout the course of his treatment our family has been blessed by the support of our incredible community. Upon Jarren’s passing, we knew immediately that we wanted to be able to give back and help other families fighting the same battle.

We had a purpose. We had a plan. Our nonprofit just needed a name. Along with his love for Buzz Lightyear, Jarren loved Transformers. Specifically, the Transformer named BumbleBee. As our youngest son sat watching the movie one morning, it came to a particular scene in the movie. We had all watched Transformers countless times but this time was different. This time, time stood still. Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots (the good guys) introduces the Autobots one by one to Sam, the main character of the movie. When Optimus gets to the last introduction he says, “you already know your guardian, Bumblebee.”

Guardian! Bumblebee! Epiphany! That’s it! We had a name. Shortly after that as we were going through some of Jarren’s things, we discovered the bee he had made in a mommy and me class. The wings of the bee were his sweet little traced hands. Perfect. We now had our logo.

The BumbleBee Foundation exists to share hope with pediatric cancer patients. Our goal is to lighten the burden for these families. Sometimes that hope comes in the form of a simple gas or grocery card. Sometimes it’s a utility, car or rent payment. Sometimes it’s to help with memorial expenses. Sometimes it’s a mom or dad on the other end of the phone that just “gets it.” Whatever that hope looks like to a family is what BumbleBee strives to offer.

This past holiday we were able to gift a single mom of a daughter with relapsed leukemia a much-needed car! To date, this is the biggest and most exciting thing we’ve accomplished for a family and we hope to be able to do more things like this in the future. The gift of the car was only made possible by the financial support of our awesome community, which we like to refer to as our beehive. And yes, our beehive rocks!

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