After 10 years of raising funds and educating men about early detection of testicular cancer, the Family Jewels Foundation has decided to dissolve as a result of COVID-19.
Nancy Balin, executive director of the foundation, has been working tirelessly to eradicate the embarrassment that causes delays in diagnosis and treatment since her stepson Jaimeson Jones died of testicular cancer in 2010. The nonprofit announced the dismantlement in an email to its supporters on Thursday, Dec. 10.
“I think Jaimeson would be would be happy with the 10 years that we had,” Balin said. “And whatever ripples are out in the larger pond from the pebbles that we dropped in, I'm glad about those. And I hope that they'll continue rippling out forever.”
She said the organization had a difficult year with the cancellation of its two biggest annual fundraisers, the Family Jewels Pie-K and Kenmore Bar Crawl. Testicular cancer has relevance, she added, but it was hard to figure out how to talk about a relatively rare disease that kills 400 men each year when thousands of people were dying of COVID-19 every day.
“I just couldn't figure out a way to talk about this, let alone fundraise,” she said.
Balin said she could not bear to ask for financial support while the foundation’s small-business sponsors were struggling to survive the pandemic themselves.
The nonprofit will continue to support the Jaimeson Jones Memorial Scholarship, which is given to local graduating high school students who have had a sibling with cancer, otherwise known as “shadow survivors.” Balin said the foundation is currently providing scholarships to four students throughout their college years.
Fortunately, the Jaimeson Jones Memorial Scholarship, a four-year scholarship for local graduating high school students who have had a sibling with cancer, will go on. The Scholarship Foundation of Northshore, which already administers the four current FJF scholarships, has agreed to accept donations on behalf of the Family Jewels Foundation and award its scholarship to future such “shadow survivors.”
Three of the scholars — Alexandra, Ryan and Hailey — are completing their fourth year of college with assistance from the memorial scholarship. The foundation’s newest scholar, Nathanael, recently returned home early from his mission trip due to COVID-19 and has since received his first scholarship, Balin said.
King County Employee Giving donations and any other incoming funds will be transferred to the nonprofit’s scholarship administrator, Scholarship Foundation of Northshore, for Nathanael’s remaining three years. Donations may be sent to JJMS by clicking on this link: https://bit.ly/3rgFM6P, and indicating that the donation is meant for the Jaimeson Jones Memorial Scholarship.
Balin said the nonprofit will offer its educational supplies to other organizations, teachers and medical providers spreading awareness about testicular cancer education. She will continue to serve on the University of Washington Men’s Health Council and share additional supplies with them, she noted.
“I've put a lot of years of my life into educating about testicular cancer and I'll always be devoted to it,” she said. “I'll continue with my efforts and I've been doing this a long time.”