The Ride for Jill: Pakenham man rides tractor to raise money for mother with incurable cancer
Published Wednesday, May 10, 2017 4:41PM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, May 10, 2017 7:01PM EDT
He's not your typical knight in shining armor but Mike Thompson is hoping to ride to the rescue of an Ottawa area woman and her family.
Jillian O'Connor has incurable cancer and three young kids.
Thompson is on a mission, on a tractor, to help her. CTV Ottawa has featured Jillian O'Connor's inspiring story before: her diagnosis while she was pregnant, her determination to give birth despite all odds to little Declan.
And now, a total stranger has arrived in their lives, with a tractor, a heart of gold and a grandson coincidentally named Declan as well.
Birthdays are an incredibly big deal to Jillian O'Connor. Today, she turns 34. She never thought she'd see this day, never thought she'd see her youngest Declan turn 2.
“He is really special because he symbolizes my life and his life put together,” O’Connor says, as she gives Declan a kiss on the cheek.
Jillian was 4 months pregnant with Declan when she found out she had aggressive cancer. A specialized chemo treatment allowed her to deliver a healthy baby, but the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes, liver, bones and now brain. The Emergency nurse and mother of three, including 5-year-old Myla and 3-year-old Landon, takes it all in stride.
“I really feel every day is a blessing,” she says.
Jillian's inspiring strength caught Mike Thompson's eye. His 12-year-old grandson is coincidentally named Declan.
“It just came to me that I needed to do something to raise some money for this family,” Thompson says.
So the Pakenham man pulled out a tractor and came up with a plan to do a “Drive for Jill.”
It has taken Thompson two years since first meeting Jillian to rebuild his 1959 tractor. The plan is to drive it across Ontario, raising money for an education fund for O’Connor’s three children.
Jillian is overwhelmed by the kindness and hopes her kids will learn from it all.
“I hope one day they look back and say, “Look what my mom did, what she accomplished.” You're given all these obstacles and you hurdle over them and you just keep on going.”
Thompson plans to keep on going as well, doing what he can to help these strangers who are now friends
What does Mike's grandson Declan think of this?
“He thinks, well, the whole family thinks I’m crazy,” Thompson says with a chuckle, as he climbs up on his tractor.
Crazy, but in a good way, he adds. Thompson has started a Go Fund Me page for the family at https://www.gofundme.com/driveforjill Jillian O’Connor, meantime, has another hurdle to overcome. She has another MRI May 15th to determine whether the lesions on her brain or gone or bigger. She's hoping for the best.