Five days shy of her 25th birthday, Jessica Moran was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). The University of Tampa alumna was in the midst of living out her dreams. She had recently undergone a career change and was enjoying her new position as a digital marketer for a fortune 500 company in the city of Boston. Upon relocating to Boston, Moran moved in with her longtime boyfriend and started taking up blogging as a hobby.
“I’ve basically had to put my life on pause to make sure that my number one priority is getting better and getting healthy,” Moran said.
ALL is a fast-growing form of cancer that affects white blood cells called lymphocytes that in turn crowd out the bone marrow, preventing it from making normal red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets that your body needs. About 6,000 people are diagnosed with ALL each year, according to Be The Match.
Since her diagnosis, Moran has spent much of her time in and out of the hospital receiving treatment. Due to chemotherapy and radiation her long brown tresses are no longer. Moran has instead resorted to a look she best describes as a “bald princess.” Her treatments are also very draining and at times can cause nausea.
Despite all of this, Moran remains positive and looks forward to what the future may bring. “It’s a little daunting to be honest,” Moran said. “But I know I can absolutely make it through and hopefully be a stronger person at the end of this.”
During her first month long stint in the hospital, Moran started a blog “The Inspiration Initiative,” which has served as a creative outlet and open diary during this challenging period in her life.
Shortly after launching, Inspiration Initiative gained traction and caught the attention of Meredith Brown, a marketing student and senior at UT. As Vice President of alumni relations of Delta Sigma Pi, Brown was aware that Moran was a brother of the business fraternity but had never formally met her.
“Last semester, I was on Facebook and I saw Jessy had created a blog,” Brown said. Brown reached out to Moran to learn more about her blogging experience and gain insight on how to successfully create her own personalized website “Meredith Takes Disney.”
However, after learning of Moran’s life threatening condition Brown felt inclined to use her leverage in DSP to help share her story and start a fundraising initiative. “I just felt like we weren’t doing enough,” Brown said. By August of 2014, Brown had begun developing “Jessy’s Story” after meeting with members of Relay for Life and former DSP presidents. On October 5, DSP launched the Jessy’s Story campaign.
“It’s been a great experience and all of the brothers are behind it,” Brown said.
Since the campaign launch, DSP has managed to create wristbands, t-shirts and even a Facebook page in an effort to raise money for Moran’s medical bills. The initial fundraising goal was $1,000 but after three weeks the organization was able to raise $2,400 prompting Brown to up the ante to $5,000. Brown believes DSP may even be able to surpass that goal as well. “It’s been an awesome ride thus far,” Brown said.
Although Brown was very proactive in launching Jessy’s Story, she is merely the conductor of the orchestra. She credits much of the campaign’s success to her team and fellow members of DSP: Marchena Chendeka, Sean Riley and Drew Barker. Chendeka is responsible for creating the Go Fund Me page and coordinating a car wash last month that raised over 150 dollars. Riley helped to inspire the wristbands and Barker spearheaded the creation of the website http://www.jessystory.com. DSP also manages an online store that sells merchandise which benefits Jessy’s Story.
The campaign is scheduled to continue until April 2015 when Moran will be flown down for UT’s annual Relay for Life event. As a keynote speaker, Moran will be sharing her story during the opening ceremony and awarded with DSP’s total campaign earnings.
“Just the feeling of knowing that I’ve done something bigger than myself gives me this unexplainable high,” Brown said.
If you are interested in contributing to Jessy’s Story please visit http://www.gofundme.com/jessysstory as well as Jessy’s Story on Facebook to learn more about upcoming events.
Kai Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org