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'A true hero and a warrior': Mentor teen Jack Sawyer brings community together

Jack died after 18-month battle with bone cancer
Jack Sawyer WFT.jpg
Posted at 5:30 PM, Nov 06, 2023

MENTOR, Ohio — For months, a teenager’s battle with cancer captured the consciousness of a community in Lake County. Jack Sawyer died over the weekend, but the strength and connectedness he inspired will leave a lasting mark.

“To hear that he’s finally out of pain, resting [and] his parents can finally rest... They were going through a lot the past 18 months,” said Jeff Cook.

Cook recently got to know the Sawyer family in the weeks after doctors told them Jack’s cancer was becoming unmanageable, and they elected to stop treatment. The 17-year-old had been battling Ewing sarcoma, an aggressive bone cancer, for 18 months.

“It was just real heartbreaking. I just felt like I needed to do something to help out and be there for him,” Cook explained.

He took over a fundraising effort for the family, selling gold stickers, signs, T-shirts and sweatshirts with the phrase “JBS Strong” printed on them.

Mentor sign and graphics company Blue Lake, Inc. donated its resources to create yard JBS Strong yard signs.

“When something happens in our community like this, it seems to bring everyone together to try to help out the family and do what they can in their time of need,” said co-owner William Hosler.

Jack’s resilience inspired other total strangers, like Happy Moose Bar and Grill manager Brian Barrish.

“People who didn’t even know him he’s brought together. That, to me, is a true hero and a warrior, and his memory will live on forever around here,” Barrish said.

The restaurant hosted shirt distributions and fundraisers for Jack and his family.

“We all embraced them as a community,” said Barrish. “And it’s not over yet. We’re still here for them.”

Even rival schools and football teams have embraced the family in recent weeks. During a late October matchup, Jack was named an honorary captain for the Cardinals, and an opposing Euclid Panthers captain gifted him a shirt that read, “Some things are bigger than football.”

Jack made his appreciation known to the community when the game’s PA announcer read a statement from the teen:

“To my classmates, teachers, staff and the entire Mentor community — I thank you for all the love and support. It was a privilege to be a part of this community. I’ll always be a Card! Remember my motto PACE — Positive Attitude Changes Everything. You will forever be in my heart. I love you all, Jack Sawyer.”

The community plans to continue rallying to support Jack’s family. But some said Jack was the one who gave the community a gift of strength and togetherness.

“There’s not enough help and love in this world,” Barrish said. “And I think this proves that it’s still there, and we can keep going with it.”

Cook said people from 20 different states have ordered JBS Strong shirts. Funeral services have not yet been announced.

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