Monday, February 15, 2010

A few thoughts about Jesse

I was not surprised to see a steady stream of friends and family of Jesse Alswager pour into the church for the 4-hour visitation prior to his funeral last Monday.  Several people I've grown to know and love through Triabetes were there, as well as other friends of Michelle's that I've gotten to know in the past few years.  We took time together to reflect on Jesse and what a wonderful and amazing kid he was, and how he will be missed--of course tremendously by his family, but also by the rest of us.  The last time I saw Jesse was when he gave up his room for me to stay with his family for the JDRF Gala last spring.  He had this confident and happy manner about him that I will not forget.

During the two short days I was in Madison, I learned even more about Jesse.  My strongest impression was how well loved he was by everyone who knew him, and how he will be missed immeasurably.  He was a light in the lives of many.  I thought I would share just a few of the many other things that I learned.

When his sister's friends came to visit her, they also wanted to visit with Jesse. He had a knack for making them laugh and keeping life fun.  They felt like Jesse was their little brother, too.  He was a loved big brother as well, and didn't complain to have his little brother come along.

Jesse was an excellent student of the guitar; his teacher put his lesson last because he enjoyed teaching him so much and liked to end his day that way.  Jesse didn't need to be reminded to practice.

His school friends loved him dearly and wrote their thoughts down on some large banners that were displayed at the visitation.  It was clear that he touched many people at his school.

Jesse never complained about having diabetes, but took it all in stride.  I don't know many who can make this same claim.  I think the only time he had a hard time was the first time he started using insulin pump infusion sets.  Those needles are long. . .

Jesse represented all of us numerous times in local, state, and national events.  He was honored by Governor Doyle of Wisconsin and had opportunities to testify before Congress regarding stem cell research and other issues.  He was an advocate helping to improve the lives of all of us with type 1 diabetes.

Jesse loved snowboarding and loved his good buddy Sean Busby, who loved him equally back.  With Jesse's inspiration, Sean took his snowboarding camps to a new level, helping many kids with type 1 diabetes the world over.  Sean asked us to ponder, when we might be too afraid to move ahead in life, what Jesse might do.  Don't wait; go for it.

Diabetes was obviously a part of Jesse's life but he was still a kid like any other who loved to be with friends, to spend time with his family, and to pursue other interests.

These are just a few thoughts that don't even begin to do justice in capturing Jesse's spirit.  For that, I would recommend that you read the poem by Joe Brady that is posted here on Michelle's blog.

It is still hard for me to wrap my mind around the reality of what has happened.  My heart aches for his family.  Yet, the message that I carry with me is to take charge of life, and to live it with joy and wonder, despite diabetes or whatever other obstacles might appear before me.  I hope that by doing so, in some small way, I can honor Jesse's life and keep him and his family in my heart.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

BRAVA Magazine Hosting Fundraiser for Jesse

The following was posted by BRAVA magazine, where Jesse's mom, Michelle, works.  If you are in the Madison area, please consider attending this event.  This is separate from the events on Monday at the Good Shepherd Church.


Here at BRAVA, we are mourning the loss of an extended member of our company's family.

On February 3rd, 2010—at age 13—Jesse Alswager was taken from his family and friends all too soon. Jesse, the son of BRAVA's Marketing and Events Director Michelle Page Alwager, lived with type 1 diabetes since age 3 and was known as "everyone's little brother." Jesse and his family have been recognized as strong advocates nationwide for type 1 and finding a cure, and he was passionate about guitar, drums and snowboarding.

Spread the word and come out to the Lazy Oaf Lounge anytime after 5pm on February 10th to celebrate his life and raise money for the family. There will be a free buffet of food, a place to donate to the fund directly and in addition, 50% of the proceeds from anything purchased that evening will go to the Jesse Alswager Memorial Fund.

If you aren't able to make it, The Jesse Alswager Memorial Fund has been set up at UW Credit Union, and all UW Credit Union branches will be able to accept donations, or donations can be mailed to:

Jesse Alswager Memorial Fund
c/o UW Credit Union
PO Box 44963
Madison, WI 53744-4963

If you'd like to donate online via Paypal, visit: 
https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=GMW43ZYQXJR9C

Please spread the word and keep the entire Alswager family in your thoughts...we hope to see you there!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Funeral Services for Jesse Alswager

Funeral services for Jesse Alswager will be held at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 5701 Raymond Road, Madison, at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 8, 2010, with Chaplain Linda O'Leary presiding. Visitation will be at the church from 3 p.m. until the time of the service. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to U. W. Credit Union, Jesse Alswager Memorial Fund.

Share your condolences here: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/jessealswager
Memorial tributes can be donated from the above link in the "My Story" section.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Memorial for Jesse Alswager

Email from Joe Brady earlier:

Here's the updated information on Michelle Alswager and her son, Jesse.

You can visit a memorial website at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/jessealswager. There you will be able to read "Jesse's Story," leave a guestbook message for Michelle and her family, and donate to the Jesse Alswager Memorial Fund at the UW Credit Union through PayPal. You can also donate through snailmail at:

Jesse Alswager Memorial Fund
c/o UW Credit Union
PO Box 44963
Madison, WI 53744-4963

The visitation and funeral will be held Monday from 3 to 7 pm on the west side of Madison on Raymond Road. Jesse's obituary is scheduled for Saturday's Wisconsin State Journal.

Watch the local news Channel 27 Thursday evening news at 10:00 for a feature on Jesse. Channel 15 may also have a segment on Thursday (or on Friday).

At present, Michelle and family have plenty of food. She's answering her phone when she can. Since you are a supporter of the cause to cure diabetes, take comfort in Michelle's words and spirit as found on Jesse's memorial website. Michelle writes, "I've spent the past 10 years fighting for Jesse and a cure, and rest assured his passing is just the beginning."

**

If you would like to mail a card to Michelle and her family, please email me for her mailing address.

Beyond Belief

I am so incredibly saddened to share that Jesse Alswager, who inspired not only his mother Michelle, but countless others in the diabetes community, passed away last night.  Michelle was tireless in her efforts to support finding a cure for type 1 diabetes, and in showing people with diabetes that they could live full and happy lives.  Jesse was 13 years old, and was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 10 years ago in March.  He was loved by all who knew him.

More information will be forthcoming but I believe that in lieu of flowers, a memorial fund will be set up.  If you would like to email condolences for Michelle and her family, you can send them to an email that I set up: forjessealswager@gmail.com.  I will make sure they are delivered to Michelle.

I have just heard that funeral services may be happening Monday in Madison, Wisconsin, although this has not been confirmed.  I will post more details as they become available.

From Sean Busby:  "If it was not for my hero Jesse, Riding on Insulin Snowboarding Camps would have been a fling. Jesse and Michelle were my diabetes support system and the reason of making Riding on Insulin go global. Jesse inspired so many and has helped so many children and adults that suffer from diabetes. His mother is an amazing fighter and she fought along side of Jesse for everyone that has type 1 diabetes - in his name. Our sky will now shine brighter now as we have a new star in the sky. He is loved and missed tremendously."

Note: I should re-emphasize that funeral plans are tentative and have NOT been confirmed yet.