What’s Working: Young cancer patient’s “heart of gold” still helping others, ten years after death

What's Working

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — In tonight’s What’s Working, the story of a mother who makes the spirit of giving, a priority all year long. She lost her young son to cancer ten years ago. She is constantly giving to families at USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital.

Melissa Byrd lost her five-year-old son, Jensen, to cancer in 2011. He was diagnosed with a Neuroblastoma, a brain tumor, when he was two. He passed away when he was five. He spent many months in the hospital while undergoing treatment.

“We were here on a daily basis. If we weren’t here for treatment, we were here for infusions or other things. The staff was so nurturing,” Byrd said.

After Jensen’s death, Byrd started a non-profit called Jensen’s Heart of Gold. Over the last ten years, she has helped raise over $700,000 for families whose children have cancer.

Byrd frequently delivers gift cards and cash to families at USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital. When we met her, she was dropping off $1500 in gift cards and nearly $1,000 in cash. The families can use the money however they choose. They can pay bills with it, or go on a trip. It is their choice.

“Our mission is to afford families the opportunity to make memories because we certainly didn’t get enough,” Byrd said.

Kim Thompson-Yates, the Child Life Coordinator at USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital, says many families have donated toys, wagons, supplies, and many other things to the hospital in memory of their children. She says it helps in the healing process. She adds that Byrd has been a blessing.

“She has the heart of a mom and the mission of a mom who has been there and going through this battle, her organization has been incredible,” Thompson-Yates said.

If you are interested in learning more about Jensen’s Heart of Gold, click here.

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