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SAVE THE DATES: Please join us Friday evening July 21 and all day Saturday July 22 for our fifth Annual Benefit Doubles Tennis Tournament. This year, we will celebrate five years of great tennis to help children with cancer with a PRE-PARTY FRIDAY evening July 21 and a full day of ROUND-ROBIN DOUBLES tennis on SATURDAY July 22.
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Discover how much the Jester & Pharley have been up to helping children and families find their smiles in our latest 12-page newsletter.


Read the Lymphoma Research Foundation's "Profile of Hope" on The Jester's Mom


The Jester's Mom recalls David's meeting with
Where the Wild Things Are
Maurice Sendak


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See coverage of our literacy program funded by USC's Good Neighbors Campaign

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A Tribute to Two Special Moms on Mother's Day
by Barbara Saltzman

As I look forward to Mother's Day, two special moms touch my heart -- Autumn Fennell and Wendy Fachon. Each had to hear the words no mother wants to hear: "Your son has brain cancer." Each has had to watch her son struggle through its cruelty. For Autumn, the ordeal began 13 years ago when her son was 2. For Wendy, the ordeal began last year when her son was 19.

Autumn and I met in 2012 following our literacy and outreach program at Disney Elementary in Anaheim, CA. After I presented the assemblies, I found an email from Autumn awaiting me. She told me that her son Jack, a 10-year-old fourth grader "had always kept his medical issues private" because he was "scared that he would have absolutely no friends if everyone knew he was 'different.'" Jack told his mom that I had shared my late son David's story The Jester Has Lost His Jingle, and that it was so uplifting and heartwarming. But he felt "horrible and sad" for me because David had died.

When we talked, I suggested that the Disney Dragons might like to hold our Jester Read-A-Thon in Jack's honor. He told his mom that keeping his secret was "exhausting" and he didn't want to keep it private any longer. When Jack was recognized at the final Jester assembly as a "warrior" in his fight against cancer, many fellow students approached him to say how proud they were of him. "It was AMAZING!!" Autumn said. "It was as though a giant weight was lifted from him."

The experience was life-transforming. Today, Jack is a student leader finishing up his first year of high school at the top of his class, coping with whatever challenges come his way with optimism and determination.

Wendy and I have never met, but we have talked at length by phone and email. As a high school student, Neil participated in a summer project called the Student Leadership Training Program. Both the SLTP and The Jester sprang into the world about the same time and The Jester became a core component of SLTP's program.

Neil became a strong advocate for The Jester, realizing how much its message of hope and laughter could help ill kids. He read the book to elementary students, began Jester read-a-thons in his hometown of East Greenwich, RI, and urged other students to join him in getting The Jester to hospitalized children.

Then, not long after beginning Northeastern University, he was diagnosed with a rare brain stem tumor. In February, after fighting with the FDA to get permission for a not-yet approved treatment for his inoperable tumor, Neil passed away. His mother never left his side. On May 8, he would have celebrated his 21st birthday.

Neil asked that donations in his memory be made to The Jester & Pharley Phund to bring Jester books and dolls to seriously ill children. His mom is supporting "Right to Try" legislation that prevents the government from stopping those diagnosed with terminal illness to receive experimental drug treatments.  

This Mother's Day, please consider honoring your mother or another important woman in your life by donating $10 to The Jester & Pharley Phund to give David's story to a child with cancer. Think of moms like Autumn and Wendy and me whose courageous children were inspired by The Jester - and think just how many more young lives The Jester can transform.

You may make your contribution by clicking the Donate Now with PayPal button at the top right of this page or by calling 310-544-4733.

With love,  Barbara

Welcome to the home of The Jester & Pharley Phund, a charitable 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to helping children with cancer and other serious illnesses with the inspiration of David Saltzman's award-winning The Jester Has Lost His Jingle.

This year, David's New York Times best-seller celebrates its 22nd anniversary of giving hope and humor to children nationwide. The Jester book and doll have been bringing smiles into the lives of thousands of children coping with serious illness. And our literacy programs make it possible for students to join The Jester's journey to help children in crisis.

David wrote and illustrated The Jester as his senior project at Yale University before his death from Hodgkin's disease in 1990. His desire was to give The Jester, with its upbeat and hopeful message, to children facing serious challenges. Today our promise to fulfill his wish remains our commitment.

When you give the joy of The Jester, you make a real difference in a child's life. And now the bilingual English/Spansh edition of El Bufon ha perdido su gracia makes it possible for Spanish speaking families to share the magical love of life and laughter in David's story.

In 2017, another 15,700 children will start their personal fight with cancer. By joining our Smiles for Kids With Cancer program, you can help us give The Jester book and doll to each of these youngsters.

While we wait for tomorrow's cures, The Jester & Pharley Phund gives children hope and laughter as they battle cancer and other serious illness today.

The Jester Doll has been carried into hundreds of hospitals to help children keep their jingle while going through medical procedures that might be scary. "I like to hold the doll when I get my spinal taps," 9 year-old Morgan O'Brien told us. "The doll and book make me feel better when I get chemo."

Our Literacy Programs inspired by The Jester Has Lost His Jingle, give students a unique and engaging way to help ill children while expanding their reading skills. Children and teachers join The Jester's Journey with a Read-A-Thon that earns Jester books and dolls for local hospitalized children.

Jester & Pharley Smile Carts make laughter a part of the healing process in hospitals, clinics and shelters. The Smile Cart activity center with audio-visual equipment includes Jester & Pharley books and dolls for patients.

Through these programs as well as special projects, more than 200,000 Jester books and dolls have been given to hospitals, shelters, underserved schools and other special-needs facilities. "The Jester came to us in our time of need and gave us hope when we needed it most," said one grateful mom.

The smallest donation will bring the biggest smile to many children.

CBS Sunday Morning
Mother's Day 2015 Segment

Follow Up Articles to
CBS Sunday
News Segment:

Daily Breeze, May 17, 2015
Peninsula News
, May 14, 2015

The Jester Joins

Barbara and Michael Saltzman
t the Los Angeles Times
Festival of Books
April 2015

See How The Jester Helps Kids Cope With Cancer

As part of our Smiles For Kids With Cancer Program, four-year-old Rena received The Jester Has Lost His Jingle while being treated at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. She has heard the story so many times that she now "reads" it to her friends and family constantly. "It makes me feel so happy," Rena says with a big smile.

You can bring the same joy to children with cancer in your community with a donation today.

About Us | Awards | Tributes | Literacy Programs | Medical Programs | Partners
Media | Date Book: News & Events | How to Help | To Order | Contact Us

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