Connor was diagnosed with Acute Lymphatic Leukemia (ALL) at age 3. He had more than four years of chemotherapies following a National Children’s Hospital protocol, but ALL couldn’t stop this bright and strong boy from becoming the talented young man he is today.
Now 17, Conner is an accomplished artist, attending his first year at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts for graphic design. His accomplishments didn’t come easy, and he’s worked for every accolade he’s received.
“We had great days and we had not-so-great days,” laughs Jane. “I became his tutor, sounding board, confidant and friend. I’ve always been so impressed with his ability to face difficult circumstances head-on, with determination and hard work. His faith in God is so strong and he prayed every morning before school.”
Praying is something else Jane and Connor are comfortable doing together. While attending an ASK Summer Camp, the children had to take cover because of a tornado warning. Connor asked Jane to pray with him because he was scared. “Well, now we can’t be worried,” said Connor after their prayer. “We prayed about it, so now it’s God’s job.”
“Mrs. Gordon is family,” says Connis Tennessee, Connor’s mom. “She’s Connor’s honorary grandmother and she was even in our family Christmas card picture one year. She knows Connor as well as we do and she is sunshine to us.” Jane jokes that she would follow Connor to the University of Hawaii if that’s where he chose to go. “I’ve always told him that I had his back if he needed me, and I meant it. I hope we have many more years together.”
ASK funding supports online tutoring, an after-school enrichment program and the First STEP preschool program, which is one of only two preschools in the country dedicated to serving pediatric cancer patients. Jane Gordon has been with ASK for more than ten years, serving as a First STEP teacher, After School Enrichment tutor and Summer Camp helper.
“My background is elementary education with a Masters degree in learning disabilities. I get these kids and their individual needs, and I love my job,” gushes Jane. “I tried to retire but they wouldn’t let me! I’m so happy to be with these kids every day.”
“An experience like childhood cancer will either make or break a family,” says Russell. “We thank God for this journey he gave us, and for Mrs. Gordon. We asked God to take care of Connor and to let us love him, and not only have we loved him but so has Mrs. Gordon. She has given her time and love and things money could never buy. We have so much to be thankful for.”
Mrs. Gordon probably won’t retire any time soon, if ASK families like the Tennessee’s have anything to do with it. Thank you, Jane, for your tireless and selfless gifts of time and expertise and joy!