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The Morse family: Matthew, Richard, Shawn, Nicholas and Kyle Morse, relax in their hotel room during their June vacation at the Longboat Key Club and Resort. 
Longboat Key Wednesday, Sep. 14, 2011 7 years ago

Jack and Jill Foundation brings fun-filled vacations to families

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by: Amanda Sebastiano Staff Writer

Shortly after his wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Jon Albert and his wife, Jill, decided to start an organization to help families affected by the disease. Jill Albert died only two weeks after the program was launched five years ago, but Albert is keeping it running in her memory. The Jack and Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation is a non-profit organization that offers vacations to late-stage cancer patients and their families.

Albert lives on Siesta Key with his fiancee, Karen Dobbs, and two children, Jake and Jamie.

“It’s exceptionally rewarding, professionally and personally,” Albert said. “We are the fun, smile, laughter and positive side of late-stage cancer. We’re about beaches, boating, sunsets and music — we’re about living.”

A recent program participant, Shawn Morse, and her family, live in Georgia. She is a mother of three and a third-generation victim of breast cancer. Her mother and grandmother both died of complications from breast cancer before age 60.

Morse originally was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2009. She started chemotherapy and was cancer-free for about a year. Then, a mass appeared on her lung, and she started getting frequent headaches.

When she went to the doctor, they discovered seven tumors on her brain. She had them removed through stereotactic radiosurgery two weeks later. Morse currently has cancerous spots on various parts of her body and undergoes chemotherapy every other week.

Oncology hospitals across the country refer families to the organization. Those who are selected meet with a member of the foundation’s team and choose a place to visit, from Disney World to New York City. The Morse family chose the Sarasota area and decided to stay at the Longboat Key Club and Resort.

The Sarasota area was a good option because it was driving distance from amusement parks such as Busch Gardens and is surrounded by beaches, Morse said.

The family flew into Tampa International Airport June 21, rented a car and stayed in a suite at the Key Club for three days.

Being able to walk on the beach and see the sun rise and set were amazing things to experience, but the hospitality of the employees was something that stayed with Morse, she said.

“Head Concierge Gloria Schroeder was incredible, as well as the staff,” Morse said. “She had toys, snacks and flowers delivered to our room and arranged for my husband and me to spend a day together, while the boys went to Mote Marine Aquarium and Five Guys for dinner. So many of our days are made up of, ‘How’s Mommy feeling?’ and it really limits what we do. This was amazing.”

Jack and Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation
Email: [email protected]
Website: jajf.org 

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