MANSFIELD -- The organizers of Mansfield’s annual bluegrass and country music festival have given more than $2,000 to the family of a Mansfield Middle School boy who is battling cancer.
After this past weekend’s Mansfield Jamfest, Chris Smith and his wife, Missy, presented 13-year-old Jaiden Grose and his mother Jenna Mateo with $2,322 and gave an additional $500 to Project One Recovery Road to sponsor a teen who is dealing with addiction.
An eighth grader, Grose was diagnosed with t-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia last November. The news shocked Mateo, who is a working, single-mother and part-time student studying to become a medical assistant.
“When Jaiden was first diagnosed, I missed a lot of work. I was living off my paid vacation to take him to the doctor’s office, and it was financially hard,” Mateo said.
The community rallied behind her family, especially those who knew her son from the Mansfield Tygers basketball and football teams. Fundraisers were held to raise money for their early expenses, and she remembers how the basketball team wore warm-up shirts that read “Jaiden Strong.”
“But money goes quick when I was having to take off work,” Mateo said.
When a social worker from Nationwide Children’s Hospital connected her with the organizers of the Mansfield Jamfest, she knew little about the festival. She didn’t realize how many people would travel from across Ohio for an event at the Richland County Fairgrounds.
“It was very overwhelming. All I knew was they might give me a gift card,” Mateo said. “It was not what I expected. It was so much more than I thought. I can’t thank them enough.”
Her son’s treatments are expected to continue for the next three years, so she says the money will help cover his future medical expenses.
Grose was an active athlete before his diagnosis. He played for the school’s basketball and football teams, but his participation has since been limited per doctor’s orders.
Still, he can often be spotted at team practices, supporting his fellow Tygers, and he has intentions to tryout for the basketball team next year.
“He doesn’t let the situation get him down. Some days, you wouldn’t even know,” Mateo said.