At the age of 14, JW Knapen had a normal life - he was a freshman in high school, played the bongos for the choir, enjoyed drawing and sculpting, and was the loving big brother and oldest son of a close-knit Belgian family. But over thanksgiving break in 2002, JW began to have seizures and was quickly diagnosed with three different brain tumors. Over the last two years, 16-year-old JW Knapen has shown courage and grace in his grueling fight against brain cancer, enduring surgery, radiation and chemotherapy treatments.
JW was not only one of my dearest patients that I have met while working as an EMT in Santa Clara Co. in California. He was also a buddy of mine! My EMT partner Jill and I would transport him to and from radiation daily. We had a special bond. This was no ordinary 16 year old, he was bright and intelligent. I guess when you know you are going to die at a young age you grow up very quickly. I once asked him if he could have anything what would it be? He paused and thought a moment, and looked up at me and said, "a family" while he was pretending to hold a baby in his arms. WOW, I thought, normally 16 year old boys are not thinking about having there own family, they want to get a girlfriend maybe in between playing basketball.
JW fought a long hard fight with his cancer, unfortunately the cancer got the best of him but his dream still is living on and we are doing what we can to make his dream come true! JW wanted to make a "house" where families of sick children can stay and be close to them while they are in the hospital. Even while JW was sick his mind was on helping others. He was always thinking of new ways to get peoples attention to be interested in his dream. We have had so many different fundraisers, this house has been able to start to be build all on donations! Please check out JW's website for a lot more information!
JW had his own motto which was to "Never Ever Give Up"! So follow your dreams and heart to do what ever it is you set out to do!