Anna's Pals
Improving the lives of hospitalized children and their families

                                                                                                                                                        Boston Herald (MA)
                                                                                                                                                        Volume 34, Issue 328
                                                                                                                                                        November 23, 2016 Jerome never forgets 
                                                                                                                                                        Latin RB, family honor sister by growing  charity                                                                                                                                                                       Author: JASON MASTRODONATO Edition:  ALL                                                                                                                                                                          Section: Sports       Page: 4    Index Terms:
                                                                                                                                                        High SchoolEstimated printed pages: 3
                                                                                                                                                        Article Text:


                                                                                                                                                       There’s no handbook for teenagers who lose a sibling                                                                                                                                                            to cancer. Will Jerome was too stunned to confront it                                                                                                                                                             His twin sister, Anna, was a Boston Latin track star who                                                                                                                                                         was adored by her classmates. Her strength through                                                                                                                                                            chemotherapy had deceived Will and members of the                                                                                                                                                            community to believe her fight with cancer would only                                                                                                                                                          be temporary.They just assumed she’d beat it.“We were                                                                                                                                                        hopeful,” Will said. “Anna was hopeful."

When she passed, I was shocked.“The day after, I had football practice. I wasn’t going to let the team down. That’s the only reason I went to school. I wanted things to get back to normal as soon as possible.” Anna died of leukemia in October 2014. She was 15.Jerome endured many “awkward” conversations with classmates and those who lent their support, gestures he now fully appreciates but at the time felt numb to. He spent about six months in denial of her death until the family created a non-profit foundation in her name called Anna’s Pals.Anna’s mother, Kris Jerome, was struggling with the loss in a different way until the foundation began to help with the healing.“At first it was insane with her,” said Will, a senior running back and linebacker at Boston Latin. “She was crying constantly, more than everyone else. But since the foundation, she’s been so much better.”Operating the foundation has required most of Kris’ evenings after work, but her most daunting task was convincing Will to participate. By the time he decided he was ready, the foundation was gaining steam.The volleyball team at Latin contributed gate funds and concession proceeds from one of its games.The football team collected candy — one of the few foods known to help counteract chemotherapy effects on patients’ taste buds — and Will delivered it to the sixth floor of Boston Children’s. The football team will also accept video games at the gate from those attending tomorrow’s Thanksgiving Day matchup with Boston English.Medway Lotus, a restaurant owned by the family of Latin football player Dan Chan, once a month donates enough Chinese food to serve 100 children at the hospital.“The entire community and school have really rallied for Anna’s Pals,” Latin athletic director Jack Owens said.Long-term, the Jerome family has its eyes on funding a beach house capable of being a germ-free environment that can host children with weakened immune systems for a heavenly vacation away from horrific reality.“Everyone deals with tragedy in different ways,” Latin football coach Ray Butler said. “Some people get bitter. But the Jeromes’ way of dealing with it is having a positive impact on others. It’s amazing.”Kris believes the foundation needs $1.5 million to get the ball rolling on the beach house. It has collected $10,000 thus far. But the short-term contributions have created silver linings for kids suffering through dark days.“Will is not much on the fund-raising aspect,” Kris said. “He doesn’t like to ask people for money. But he likes to be bringing in the candy, the food. He likes to see the kids’ faces light up.”Anna’s friends were there for her until the end.Anna’s Pals has revitalized the spirit in Will Jerome.“He didn’t do anything for Anna’s Pals initially, but I think time and maturity kicked in,” Kris said. “The first time he helped us bring in the Chinese food and saw the kids excited for the food to come in, I think there was a flip that switched.“Finally, he could face it.”(A candlelight vigil to remember Anna Jerome will be held Friday at 7 p.m. at Jamaica Pond. To learn more, visit @JMastrodonatoCaption:
CARRYING ON HER MEMORY:Boston Latin senior Will Jerome holds a picture of his twin sister, Anna, who died from leukemia in 2014, while sitting with his father Dan, mother Kris, sister Emily and dog Mia. Jerome has helped his family start a non-profit called Anna’s Pals that works to better the lives of sick children coping with extended stays in hospitals. Below are photos of Will and Anna from their days as flag football teammates.STAFF PHOTOS BY MATT WESTCopyright (c) 2016 Boston Herald
Record Number: 32304568