What started as a way to distract Landon Jaros from his harsh new reality morphed into delivering inspirational messages to provide motivation for a full recovery. Just four years old, he received a diagnosis of T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia early last week, and parents Megan and Todd Jaros — both Platte County graduates — were forced to relocate themselves to Children’s Mercy Hospital as much as possible to start treatment.
The good news? This is considered one of the most treatable forms of leukemia.
The bad news? A long road of at least three years likely awaits Landon, his parents and his younger sister.
That means the first extended stay at Children’s Mercy becomes just the beginning of a trying ordeal. Todd, a 2001 Platte County graduate and longtime personal friend of mine, reached out on Facebook asking for people to send personal videos.
These have ranged from silly to serious, but all of them seem to have an inspiring theme of recovery.
Justin Tyler and fellow members of the Lenexa Fire Department wished Landon well in uniform with a fire truck in the background.
Members of Platte County’s senior class — too numerous to name here — took some time on Prom Night over the weekend to deliver a, “We love you, Landon” message in unison.
Congregation members of The Calling Community Church delivered a round of applause in Landon’s honor.
Topher Kilkenny — a 2015 Platte County graduate — went from having Landon as his No. 1 fan to becoming the No. 1 fan of Landon in his short message.
Family members have provided some updates on Landon’s fight but also wanted to keep the news somewhat private. These videos ended pretty much any hope of that, and now a whole community and beyond have started to rally behind the cause and the theme of #PrayForLandon.
That became really evident during Opening Day for the Kansas City Royals.
Kayla Parker filmed a short message from Laurence Leavy — a Miami-based lawyer known as Marlins Man for the distinctive orange baseball jersey he wears while attending high-profile sporting events. A regular in Kansas City in recent years, Leavy gave an open invitation: “I’m here with a bunch of fans who want you to get better,” he said. “Here’s what I’m going to do for you. When you feel up to it, if you get better, you can go to a game and sit with me. That’s the deal, but you have to get better.”
So Landon has to get better, and maybe more important than the invite: the message reached thousands more thanks to Leavy’s generosity. Hopefully, someone lets him know the Jaros family — despite many of my own objections — remains proud Cardinals fans.
Hopefully, that game can be in St. Louis if and when the time comes.
There will be more efforts to support the Jaros family (nearly $18,000 was raised in the first 12 hours of a GoFundMe campaign), and people will give because that’s what Platte City does. Megan and Todd lived here, came back to start their family here and became a big part of this community. Both were standout people as students at Platte County High School, and Todd has dedicated his professional life, teaching plus duties as a football and baseball coach, to his hometown school.
For now, the Jaros family will spend more time than they want with doctors, unable to resume that normal life. Landon told his dad days after severe headaches led to the leukemia diagnosis, “This is hard, but we aren’t going to live here forever,” while at Children’s Mercy.
Those words have caught on not only for the immediate relevance but for the spiritual wisdom that can be taken from a bubbly four-year-old trying to understand the scope of an illness he shouldn’t have to face.
So if you have some time, pray for Landon and his family, too. They need our help to get better.
Ross Martin is publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @Citizen_Ross.