Kaitlin Sandeno, Allison Schmitt Visit Hospital for Jessie Rees Foundation

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By Dan D’Addona.

Kaitlin Sandeno continues to use her platform as an Olympic swimmer to bring joy to others.

Sandeno has been the national spokesperson for the Jessie Rees Foundation for several years. The foundation visits youth with cancer in hospitals around the country.

“The Jessie Rees Foundation has been like family for me for the past seven years. It is absolutely incredible to see how the foundation has grown and built to have NEGU (Never Ever Give Up) be an inspiring motto of encouragement worldwide. I am absolutely honored to get to be a part of Team NEGU,” Sandeno said.

They also distribute JoyJars, filled with something fun and age-appropriate for the children they are visiting. It was the invention of Jessie Rees, a youth swimmer who lost a battle with cancer several years ago.

On Thursday, Olympian Allison Schmitt joined Sandeno for a memorable visit at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

“A long time ago, Allison was my teammate when she was a high schooler training with us post grads at Club Wolverine,” Sandeno said. “Her smile, attitude, laugh, compassion and our friendship made today’s visit extra special as we continue Jessie’s wish of encouraging every child fighting cancer to never ever give up.”

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Photo Courtesy: Jessie Rees Foundation

Sandeno is a four-time Olympic medalist. She won the silver in the 400 IM and gold as a part of the 800 free relay in Athens in 2004.

She is the host of USA Swimming’s Deck Pass Live and emceed the 2016 Olympic trials in Omaha.

Since retiring from competitive swimming following the 2008 trials, Sandeno has been heavily involved in the Jessie Rees Foundation.

“When we get to go into children’s hospitals to deliver Jessie’s JoyJars, it is so special. Jessie really knew what she was up to when she created her JoyJars because when we get to deliver them to the kids at the hospital they never fail to bring a smile to their face. As we walk around the floor of the pediatric oncology floor, it is hard to think about all of the stories of these families journeys, but team NEGU arrives to give those families hope, joy and love and a JoyJar to encourage them to Never Ever Give Up,” she said. “It means a lot to me to get to be a part of the Jessie Rees Foundation. After meeting Jessie when she was battling this terrible disease, she left a big mark on my heart. I take my opportunity to spread joy to families all over the country very seriously and I do that because I feel like Jessie left me with a passion to encourage and spread joy.”

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Photo Courtesy: Jessie Rees Foundation

1 comment

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