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Thursday marked an important anniversary for the Boston family. It wasn't a wedding date or a birth date. Rather, Feb. 22 marked the one-year anniversary of Jarrett Boston's lost battle with cancer.
In 2002, when Jarrett was 13 years old, a black, strange-looking mole was discovered on his back. After the mole was diagnosed as a malignant melanoma, Jarrett underwent surgery, had his lymph nodes removed and was declared cancer-free. But then, in 2004, a melanoma was found under the original scar line, and the odds did not sound good. The cancer had progressed to stage three, and with treatment, he was given a 59 percent survival rate.
For the next year, Jarrett underwent grueling rounds of treatment, but his survival rates progressively diminished as the cancer spread to his brain. At 3:10 p.m. Feb. 22, 2006, Jarrett, then 17, took in his last breath.
"No chemo, no radiation, nothing could save our beloved son," said Michelle Boston, Jarrett's mother.
However, the family does not remember Jarrett as a boy downtrodden by illness. While he was waging his inner war, the Collins Hill High School student consistently ranked in the top 5 percent of his class. Despite the brutal bouts with chemo, he remained active in the school's athletic scene, playing baseball - a left fielder, basketball - a point guard, and football - the quarterback.
"He was amazing," Boston said. "Jarrett had a big toothy grin that could light up a room. (He) had a quick wit with a big dash of sarcasm and was a loyal friend, loving brother, and wonderful son. "
The Boston family and the Gwinnett community have worked to keep Jarrett's spirit alive. The high school retired his three jerseys. A tree has been planted in his name. The family spent hours picking out a tombstone, knowing the rock would be a lasting reminder to the world of their son and brother.
"When you lose a child, you look for many ways to memorialize their lives, their names," Boston said. "Your biggest fear is that they will be forgotten."
To help Jarrett's name live on, the Boston family has created the C. Jarrett Boston Memorial Scholarship fund to honor their son and brother. As Jarrett's father, Greg Boston, is an alumni of Georgia College and State University, the scholarship fund will provide assistance for a Gwinnett County student to attend school there.
"We wanted to do something that would give back to the community that gave so much to Jarrett and to our family," Boston said. "It is also a way to keep Jarrett's story, his life, in touch with the future."
The family has raised $2,500 so far, but needs $10,000 to ensure that the scholarship will be endowed.
"We have two more years to reach our goal," Boston said. "While this seems like a good deal of time, the past year has flown by and we are nervous that we may not reach our goal and that the scholarship will fail."
Applicants for the scholarship must meet several qualifying standards. First, they must be an incoming college freshman, a Gwinnett County resident who attends Gwinnett County schools, and attending college at Georgia College and State University. Also, they must have, at one time, been diagnosed with cancer, and have earned a varsity letter, Boston said.
The Boston family is asking for donations to help make this scholarship a reality. To donate to the fund, contributions can be made to: GCSU Foundation, Attn: Elizabeth Hines, Campus Box 96, Milledgeville, Ga., 31061. Donors are asked to write "Jarrett Boston Scholarship Fund" on their checks.
For more information, visit www.caringbridge.org, click on "Visit" and search for "jarrettboston."
March of Dimes seeks volunteers
The March of Dimes Northeast Division is seeking volunteers for the 2007 WalkAmerica event. Volunteers will plan and work the walk on April 28 at Lake Lanier Islands. Call 678-546-0023.
Eight-course meal to benefit ALS
The Art Institute of Atlanta's senior art practicum class will host eight-course benefit dinners at 7 p.m. Saturday and March 8. The dinners will raise money for the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association of Georgia. Tickets are $80 per person, and reservations are requested. For more information, call 770-689-4851 or 800-275-4542, ext. 4851.
Miss Gwinnett speaks for Dream House
The Dream House for Medically Fragile Children has announced Melissa Harrell, the reigning Miss Gwinnett Georgia Outstanding Teen, as a new group spokeswoman. Harrell will discuss the Dream House as part her platform during the Miss Georgia's Outstanding Teen Pageant in June.
The Lilburn-based, nonprofit Dream House serves abused, neglected and abandoned children and educates families on how to care for medically fragile kids. The residential house is a home for medically fragile children, complete with a live-in foster family. It serves children with chronic conditions such as paralysis, pulmonary disorders or other conditions that leave them dependent on medical intervention to live.
Camp for children taking applications
The Victory Junction Gang Camp, a North Carolina-based, free camp for children ages 7 to 15 who suffer from a chronic medical condition or serious illness, is accepting applications for the summer 2007 sessions. The application deadline is March 31. For more information, visit www.victoryjunction.org.