At JKCP, we were introduced to the Matthews family when their daughter Corey joined us for a few summers. Over time, we got to know Corey, her mother and her family when we learned that her sister, Taylor, was diagnosed with pediatric cancer. Their story has been with us ever since.
“Taylor was high spirited, fun loving, brave and determined. Taylor believed, that in life, ‘All You Need is Love’.” Taylor bravely fought her illness for five years while having a strong compassion for helping others. She was horrified that thousands of children could be suffering from the same terrible disease and yet “their cries for help were being ignored”. As her mother, Sue Matthews, tells us, “Taylor was determined to make a difference” and this is when she founded Tay-bandz as a grass roots, non-profit 501(c )(3) organization within their local community that is dedicated to raising awareness and funding pediatric cancer research.
Tragically, the Matthews family lost Taylor. Needless to say, it’s been a journey to find a way to live without their daughter and sister. Today, the Matthews family along with the supporters of Tay-bandz will keep Taylor’s spirit and her thirst to make a change to help others alive through the organization. Taylor’s passion for life powers Tay-bandz every day. It provides the strength that the Matthews family needs every morning when they wake up. Sue remembers Taylor saying, “Mommy, it would all be worth it if we could save one life.” Recently, Sue received news from one of the hospitals where they have been funding anti-body research for several years, which they have saved three lives!
When you invest your time, effort and money into Tay-bandz, you are also investing in a child. There are several ways to get involved whether it’s as a volunteer, corporate partner or to engage in the matching programs of the corporations you work for. One volunteer sponsored a great event in Central Park exercising for a day to fight pediatric cancer. Another organized a “Broadway Bodies” Class where those who participated learned the dance moves to a Broadway song. JKCP has even hosted dances and “Throw a Pie in Julian’s Face” fundraisers (pictured below). Sue Matthews reiterates that this is “something Taylor would always want” and it’s fun! From these efforts, came an acappella fundraiser called “Tunes4Tay” tailored to each school and each group involved. Each group can use their creativity, unique style and their own voices to create an event that is both exciting and equally meaningful to them. We teach the students “The Power Of One” along with using Taylor as an example to empower them to make a difference, no matter what it is.
As a young child, Taylor was full of boundless energy. She could never sit still and her mother would tell her to run laps around the house just to calm the energy and she would run and run until she was exhausted. Nine months after her diagnosis, Taylor competed in their school’s annual Turkey Trot finishing in fifth place. Six years later, after her body endured three massive thoracotomies, Taylor took the same passion and will towards accomplishing a new goal, which was to climb the stairs in her home and walk down the hall with an oxygen tank in hand. That same smile and twinkle remained as she was proud to be able to walk the steps.
The Matthews family and many others benefited from Taylor and her passion. Her mom recalls that, “Taylor really understood the true meaning of relationships, love and what life was about”. Taylor gave enough love to last a lifetime. Sue asked Taylor a few weeks before she died, why Taylor was not upset or angry tied to an oxygen tank and not able to go to school or go out with friends? Taylor’s response was, “Mommy, what do I have to be angry about? Everyone loves me.” Taylor gave the world 16 beautiful years and because of her vision of Tay-bandz has been able to give many more years to children suffering from pediatric cancer.
To learn more about Tay-Bandz: http://taybandz.org/