MOUNT DORA -- Lake County firefighters are shaving their heads and donning orange T-shirts and wristbands emblazoned with the words “Team Jay” to support their brother, firefighter Nick Ryon, whose son Jay was diagnosed with cancer last week.
The 6-year-old is aggressively fighting Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, or ALL, at Florida Hospital in Orlando, after the family received the difficult news.
A Facebook group called Team Jay, created to cheer up the child while he undergoes treatment, has gone viral. The page already has 6,000 members and climbing, and nearly 900 photos of everything orange: Pumpkins, flip flops, silly socks, cats and even orange–dyed dogs. Why orange? Leukemia awareness is represented by the color.
Photos continue pouring in from across the world — from U.S. Army bases, universities and fire departments. Children from cheerleaders to Little Leaguers are flooding the page with photos of themselves holding signs and notes of support for Jay and his family.
“Thank you all for your comments and your videos,” said Ryon in a video taken in Jay’s hospital room and posted to the group. “Jay is loving it. Keep it coming in. That’s what’s keeping us going.”
The Facebook group began with the sole purpose of making Jay smile. But the community’s support of the little boy, affectionately known as “JJ,” is also testament to the camaraderie within The Lake County Public Safety Department.
Ryon and Jay’s mom Maggie Denk shaved their heads as their son goes through chemotherapy. In turn, dozens of members of the Public Safety Department are sporting completely bald heads or “Friar Tuck” haircuts.
“Nick and Maggie are really incredible people,” said Lake County Fire Lt. Brian Gamble. “They are always donating their time on the opposite side of this. And JJ -- he is a great little kid.”
For more information or to share a message with Jay, join the Team Jay group on Facebook.