About Jaydie Lynn King
Jaydie Lynn King was always looking out for others. When she went shopping for school supplies Jaydie would have her mom buy extras just in case a classmate couldn’t afford them. She was the one who would befriend someone playing alone at recess. When one of her siblings was hurt she was the first to comfort them. And after a visit to Phoenix Children’s Hospital, when she had been poked and prodded with needles, she’d hand out her beads of courage to other children in the waiting room rather than keep them for her own necklace.
“She was here for a reason and we’re different people because of her; stronger, more giving, more loving, and we appreciate every day a little more,” Cami says.
Jaydie passed away in 2005 at age 8 following an almost year-long battle with a brain tumor. “She was an absolute angel throughout her brief life,” says her mom Cami. “She was here for a reason and we’re different people because of her; stronger, more giving, more loving, and we appreciate every day a little more. The thing she taught us most is to leave people better than you found them.”
That lesson is something Cami and Jeffry King have put into action, pledging $1 million to Phoenix Children’s, and naming the Jaydie Lynn King Neuro-Oncology Program in their daughter’s honor. “This is what Jaydie would have wanted us to do. It was really her vision,” says her dad Jeffry. “This isn’t just about Jaydie, but all of the other sick kids and how she wanted to help them.”
The Kings remember their first night at Phoenix Children’s like it was yesterday. “It was extremely traumatic to say the least. But from day one the staff treated us like family, and at that point in our lives we really needed that,” says Jeffry. “They made Jaydie feel like she was the most important person, and that was consistent throughout our time there. It was also a comfort knowing we could put complete trust in the doctors to make the right decisions about what was best for our daughter.”
They knew the prognosis was poor. The tumor was inoperable and would affect too many vital structures to remove it surgically. As painful as that was to hear, the fact that doctors were upfront about what may lie ahead allowed them to make the most of the time they had left with their daughter. “As parents we always held out hope that things would change…that a miracle would happen,” explains Cami. “But it was important to know the road we were going to travel because we were able to spend every moment we had with her as if it were our last.”
“The staff treated us like family,” says Jeffry.
Just recently Cami and Jeffry were going through Jaydie’s journals and cards, reading the messages she had made about her family and friends. Among them were notes she’d written to her dad about how much he inspired her, and how she wanted to make him proud. “I think that’s why Jeffry is so driven,” explains Cami. “There was really a special bond between the two of them. She looked up to him so much that he can’t let her down.”
With the support of their family and friends they formed “Team Jaydie.” Jaydie herself presented a $25,000 check to the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders – money she helped raise through a block party and other fundraisers. After she passed away, Cami and Jeffry formed the Jaydie Lynn King Foundation. Because Jaydie used movies to pass the time while she was hospitalized, they first used the funds to purchase DVD players, movies, stuffed animals, and blankets for children undergoing treatment.
They’re gratified to know that their commitment to Phoenix Children’s will now help fund programs, services, and especially research. “Part of our decision was based on the fact that they incorporate research into their treatment and are so aggressive at providing different drug therapies to kids,” adds Cami. In fact, Jaydie was the first patient at the Hospital to complete a Phase 1 research trial. Although they knew the drug protocol might not work, in true Jaydie fashion she told her parents she wanted to try it anyway just in case it helped another child down the road.
Cami and Jeffry and say they’re honored to partner with Phoenix Children’s since they both have the same goal of making children better and making their time at the Hospital a little easier. Seeing Jaydie’s name for the first time on the Hospital walls was an emotional moment for them. “When we saw it for the first time we cried. But they were happy tears for what we were accomplishing…what it meant to us and what it would have meant to her,” explains Cami.
There are other ways the family still honors Jaydie and the way she lived her life. On the first day of school they still send extra supplies with their other children, Taylor, Jaxson, Braydin, and Trey. They sponsor other kids for field trips when they can’t afford to pay on their own. And mostly, they laugh. The memories her siblings have of their sister are of them giggling together. “Jaydie was so caring towards everyone,” says Cami. “She really taught us what life is all about and set a high standard for us to live up to.”
Learn how you can donate to the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Phoenix Children's Hospital.