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K-State Week: Rivalry put on hold as Jayhawks, Wildcats fight for Jamie's Wish

When Jamie Pursley was in college, she cheered passionately for Kansas State, despised nearly everything about Kansas University and would never be caught for a second so much as thinking a positive thought about KU, the Jayhawks or Lawrence.

Today, a little more than six months after Jamie passed away, it’s her memory and kind heart that have inspired a group of her closest friends, both Wildcats and Jayhawks, to come together in an attempt to raise $100,000 to renovate 15 infusion rooms at Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s Oncology Center. The idea did not belong to her friends. It was Jamie’s wish, and that phrase now is the driving force behind the quest to honor her memory while sprucing up a part of the city she once viewed as a bitter rival.

“Two weeks before she died, she looked us dead in the eye and said this is what I want you to do,” said Kelli Alldredge, one of Jamie’s best friends. “A week after she passed, we got started. “There’s no rivalry when it comes to fighting cancer. We’re all on the same team.”

With the help of some notable members of both the KU and K-State communities, the fund-raising effort began a few months ago. From the beginning, this weekend’s KU-KSU football game in Lawrence was viewed as the centerpiece of their efforts because it will bring together two of Jamie's great loves — KSU and Lawrence.

Former KU wide receiver Harrison Hill and former KSU quarterback Jonathan Beasley are both heavily involved in the cause and have been instrumental in getting things rolling. Lawrence businessman, Miles Schnaer, owner of Crown Automotive, also is on the board and has the distinct honor of being known as the cause’s first official donor.

“What appeals to me with this is there are definite goals,” said Schnaer, a huge KU supporter. “They want to do something with the money they raise, they have a plan and it’s a heck of a plan.”

Originally from Topeka, Jamie was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 while living out of state. After considering her options and hearing that the cancer had spread, she, her husband Aaron and their daughter Kayden decided to move closer to home, to Lawrence, to undergo chemotherapy treatment at LMH. Friends said the decision to relocate to Lawrence wasn’t easy for the die-hard Wildcat fan married to a man from Manhattan. But they also said it turned out to be one of the best moves she ever made.

That’s where the idea for Jamie’s Wish was born, several months after Jamie made the trek, day after day, to LMH’s Oncology Center for hours of treatment. Although LMH’s infusion rooms where Jamie’s chemo treatments were administered were and remain on par with those found at thousands of hospitals throughout the country, Jamie wanted them to be more. The equipment was a little outdated. The decor was sterile. The experience, for friends, family and patients, did not allow anyone to escape the fight they were facing.

“Their rooms are fine,” Hill said. “And they’re what you find at a lot of other hospitals. But they don’t make you feel peaceful and hopeful, and that’s what we’re trying to change. Because everyone deserves to have a place where they can fight with hope.”

When Alldredge and Aimee Jackson, the chairperson of the foundation, first approached LMH with the idea, hospital officials said they would be more than happy with whatever amount of money the group could raise. Alldredge and Jackson quickly informed them that they were looking to hit a home run and asked them what it would take to outfit all 15 rooms with the amenities of their dreams. The total came in at $100,000 — around $6,500 per room — and included plans to update the medical equipment, the artwork, the sitting areas for friends and family members and add flat-screen televisions iPads and iPod docking stations for each room.

“The more time I spend with the hospital, the more I want to raise the money,” Alldredge said. “My goal is to raise a little more than they said it would take, just so they don’t have to cut costs when it gets started. To tell you the truth, I don’t know that we’ll stop at LMH. We may do another hospital and just keep on going.”

About three months into its quest, Alldredge and an army of 20 or so of Jamie’s closest friends and family members are well on their way to achieving their goal. The web site — www.jamieswish.org — officially launched in mid-August. Since that time, more than $33,000 has been raised.

Some has come from private donations, big and small. And a lot of it came from an appeal to what these people were all about — the Sunflower Showdown.

"All these girls talk about is K-State," Schnaer said.

This weekend, when undefeated and 12th-ranked Kansas State comes to Lawrence to take on the 2-4 Jayhawks, nearly all of Section 22 at Memorial Stadium will be filled with people supporting Jamie’s Wish. They won’t be wearing red or blue. And they won’t be wearing purple. Instead, they’ll don bright pink shirts that read, “Gameday: Together for a common cause” on the front and “www.jamieswish.org” on the back.

Tickets and T-Shirts are still available. For $100, donors get a ticket to the game, which kicks off at 11 a.m., a shirt, access to a pregame tailgate tent and a postgame celebration at 23rd Street Brewery. All of the money will go toward the foundation. For those not interested in going to the game or for those who may already have a ticket, access to the pregame and postgame fun can be had for $30.

In addition, donations can be made on the Jamie’s Wish web site with a couple of clicks of the mouse. Every penny raised is tax deductible and will go directly to LMH, which is handling the financial side of the fund-raiser.

“I know people say this all the time, but every dollar does help,” Hill said. “Any amount.”

In the months that have passed since they lost one of their best friends, Alldredge, Jackson and dozens of others have poured their hearts and souls into the Jamie’s Wish cause. Part of the reason has been to raise money to help grant their friend’s final request and the other is to keep her memory alive. Alldredge said sharing Jamie’s story and working toward this cause has helped bring as many smiles as tears to the mourning process.

“People keep complimenting me, but I think I’m the one who’s blessed,” Alldredge said. “I get to see this out and see how it helps people. The entire Lawrence community has embraced us so much through all of this, and that’s exactly what they did for Jamie.”

Log on to the Jamie’s Wish web site to learn more about Jamie’s story, or to donate.

Comments

Eric Dawson 3 years, 1 month ago

Don't intend to put the rivalry on hold one bit, but absolutely behind this effort! Thanks for the publicity, Matt! Put your $ where your heart is...

Matt Tait 3 years, 1 month ago

Well said. I guess there's time to support the great cause and keep the rivalry kicking!!! All the best. - Matt

Matt Tait 3 years, 1 month ago

Sounds great.

Thanks for the help and thanks for reading!!! I have no doubts that these wonderful people will reach their goal and then some..

  • Matt

Kent Wells 3 years, 1 month ago

KSU is marginally acceptable, but don't even think about trying this before the Mopery game, Matt!!!

gchawk 3 years, 1 month ago

Great article, Matt. While this is a huge rival game, your article definitely puts things into perspective. Best of luck to the Pursley family, maybe not with their favorite team, but with their lives. The check is in the mail !

CardHawkFan 3 years, 1 month ago

As always, finding a way to make great stories even better. Good work Matt and godspeed to the family and this cause!

ahpersecoachingexperience 3 years, 1 month ago

ahpermyheartbreaksforthatlittlegirl

I'm no financial genius but a $100 for a ticket, t-shirt, pre and post game party, and goes to a good cause sounds like a deal of a lifetime

mjhawkchalk 3 years, 1 month ago

It's safe to say I just gained respect for you, ahpersecoachingexperience.

Andy Tweedy 3 years, 1 month ago

As someone who supports cancer research via the St. Jude Marathon every December, I know the importance of awareness. Without this article, I certainly wouldn't have known about this cause, and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to help those in need. Thanks, Matt, for spreading the word, and I'll most definitely be watching for the pink out in section 22.

Chris Bailey 3 years, 1 month ago

I will never forget the kindness shown to us by the staff at LMH. In 2005 we were blessed to find out we would have a baby after being together for 9 years as a married couple. My wife's prenatal care was done at LMH until it was learned she was high risk. We transferred care to the University of Kansas Hospital, who were nothing short of outstanding. Our daughter was born May 23rd 2005 and died July 1st 2005. She ultimately died of Myotonic Dystrophy. After the funeral we arrived home and started going through all of our mail we had received. In it we found a bill from LMH I enclosed a check for $25 with a letter explaining things and that I would pay them in full as soon as I was able. A week later I received my check back with a sympathy card and condolences for our loss. This is my turn to pay it forward. Couldn't be happier to give to this cause. May God bless everyone involved in this cause. Trust me you never know when tragedy will strike you or a loved one. Rest in peace Chloe Taylor Bailey until we meet again. I love you! Daddy

nuleafjhawk 3 years, 1 month ago

rxdoc - I am sitting here at work trying to discreetly wipe my eyes and it ain't working.
I am truly sorry for your loss. It really puts stupid things like conference realignment and crummy football into perspective. Thanks for sharing your story. God bless you and your wife. nuleaf

Chris Bailey 3 years, 1 month ago

I cried typing it man. But truly LMH was wonderful. I will never forget the kindness they showed to us during THE single most difficult time of my life. Maybe my story will do nothing but show others that things like this are true and LMH does care about people first.

gchawk 3 years, 1 month ago

My thoughts exactly, nuleafjhawk. My sincere sympathy to you, rx, and thanks for sharing.

Chris Bailey 3 years, 1 month ago

Thanks to you all. Hope it will put things into perspective. I was in Pharmacy school at the time. My wife almost died after the delivery she had cardiomyopathy. We were really hurting. Thank god for family, friends, KUMC, and LMH. I worked at KUMC and had 1st rate insurance. But it couldn't replace my lost work time. Spent about six months in a fog of depression. Then we had my son 13 months later. He is the greatest gift I've ever received. A crazy story my wife was at oak park mall when I was at work at KUMC one Sunday and an old woman (looked like a bag lady) walked up to her and said I see he has a guardian angel and discribed what the angel looked like down to her curly hair (she discribed Chloe). True or not I hold on to that memory that Chloe watches over Carter each and every day. Glad I was able to share.

nuleafjhawk 3 years, 1 month ago

We were at the KU Medical Center this past Thursday - our soon to be 29 year old daughter had minor surgery to remove a benign tumor. I was very, very impressed with KUMC. They were incredibly organized and the staff was very pleasant and made us all feel very safe and comfortable.

As far as the Oak Park Mall incident - it was true, you can totally believe that. There are people that can sense that kind of thing.

My sister died 18 years ago in a car accident. My son was not quite 3 years old at the time. Almost a year later I woke up at my usual time of about 5:30 am and I heard him talking to someone. I went into his room and asked him who he was talking to and he said " Aunt Chrissy " (my sister). He said she was just visiting from Heaven and wanted to see how he was doing. I still get chills.

Technically, Chloe and Chris aren't angels. Angels are their own beings - but though the terminoligy is different, it's the same result. I'm certain the lady at the mall saw your Chloe, and that my son saw my sister.

There's a lot that we don't understand and won't until it's our time. But we just have to have faith and trust in HIm. Or to slip in some TG thoughts - BELIEVE.

Chris Bailey 3 years, 1 month ago

Wow man... I got chills reading that. BELIEVE. My wife was pretty shook up after the incident so I'm sure the lady was real and spoke the truth. Not many days go by that I don't think about what might have been. I know that if she would have survived in her current state her quality of life would have been poor alhough the day we had to unhook the vent my wife was holding her and I whisper to her hi angel daddy loves you and she looked around until she spotted me real or not it's the little things that keep us going. In my heart I will always think she heard my voice and responded to it. God Bless man. Truly sorry about your sister. That's tough man. TG gets props for BELIEVE. As for the football we gotta hold onto our hope that he'll get some big boys up front. But football always takes a back seat to life even though life sometimes moves ahead without us. Thanks for sharing man. Hope your son remembers that day as you do.

aviebs51 3 years, 1 month ago

I went to ksu briefly and maintained my heart to KU. I have a lot of friends from ksu and despretly want to win Saturday. But After reading both this topic and your story I would rather achieve the $100,000 mark for this foundation. I too have had family in Lawrence memorial, having been born there myself, and it really puts things into perspective. If KU loses sure it will be hard for a day or maybe a week at work but we will get over it. Losing your mother to cancer can mentally shape that young girl for the rest of her life. Sports are for but only a second in this life. It really makes you want to take a step back and reevaluate things.

MDHawk 3 years, 1 month ago

Very good...a worthwhile cause for sure, and quite the deal as well. Thanks for the article, Matt...I had no idea this was going on, and am happy to donate!

bananahead 3 years, 1 month ago

Good article matt man. Wish I was back home for the game this weekend!!

Christine Anderson 3 years, 1 month ago

It is a beautiful thing they are doing. Still, very sad. Doesn't anyone ever beat this? Why does damned breast cancer have to win every time?

gchawk 3 years, 1 month ago

Some do, but, unfortunately, a lot don't. My mother-in-law discovered 25 years ago that she had breast cancer and is still with us. My mom wasn't so fortunate, she was only 53 when she passed because of it. It's all about early detection.

kusnead 3 years, 1 month ago

Matt - Thank you for sharing Jamie's wish with such a great audience. I had the pleasure of growing up with her from elementary through highschool and she was and still is a eternal inspiration. It truly sucks that cancer takes so many of the best people in all of our lives. I implore everyone to try to help in anyway possible to see that her dream comes true. Thank you again and we miss you dearly Jamie!

actorman 3 years, 1 month ago

A truly heartbreaking and inspiring story. What a great picture; I feel so sad for Kayden and the struggles that lie ahead for her.

Thanks, Matt, for sharing this and for doing your usual great writing. We in Jayhawk Nation are truly blessed to have a writer of your caliber on this site.

Unfortunately, I'm not in a great financial position these days, but I still felt it was important to at least make a small donation. I encourage everyone to give what you can to this great cause.

sportswidow 3 years, 1 month ago

Matt,

Well written and thanks so much for doing this to help spread the work.

This is my first time at blogging so I hope I do it right.

Jamie and her mother shared the room with my daughter Jennifer and me immediately following their births. Over the years that passed, we slowly lost contact with them. Low and behold, when Jennifer enrolled in college at Kansas State University, she and Jamie were both in the same sorority and became very good friends.

We have all followed her long journey of ups and downs in her brave battle with the enemy (breast cancer). She did so many positive things to help improve life for patients of breast cancer here in Kansas and in Indiana.

We will never forget Jamie and will always continue to fight her battle, even though she is not here to fight alongside us. She is here with all of us in our hearts and smiling down on everyone.

My husband Mike and our son Jeff - (huge KU fans), along with many of their friends have a big tailgate at all of the KU home football games and this Saturday, they will be donating all of the food and drinks, etc. to help Jamie's cause. We hope to raise a lot of money for the cause. "100-percent" goes to help her wish come true. Please show up and donate as much as you feel that you can or help in any way you can.

Breast cancer WILL affect everyone of us or someone we love in our lifetime in some way and we all need to work together to beat this monster. Please keep up the fight. See you Saturday.

Patty Dreiling

Chris Bailey 3 years, 1 month ago

Very good first post. I sent in $100. It's already posted to my bank. Glad I am financially able to give to such a wonderful and worthwhile cause! Hope the goal is reached 10 fold!

sportswidow 3 years, 1 month ago

Check out the Team Tailgate blog www.teamtailgate.blogspot.com

It will give you an idea of what you might expect on Saturday-Come early and stay late- will be fun and Jamie will be so proud of you all - Patty D or should I say, "Mrs. MTB and MTD"

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