Jesse Jones is a hero to the little guy in Seattle. Hundreds of people call him every week at KING5 (NBC) hoping to “Get Jesse” to remedy an injustice.
Mr. Jones, who was a championship star fullback at Montana State and was recruited by the Green Bay Packers, brings an intimidating drive to his investigative reports. He is equally protective of the little guy who is getting trampled by the callous disregard of arrogant executives. He told the Tacoma News Tribune:
A great day in news is that you can change lives. You can change the way the government operates. You can have people see something that will affect their lives.
My friend Carole May has been telling me that I need to “Get Jesse” for months. It isn’t easy. In these tough economic times, thousands of people are getting trampled every day. We all desperately need help.
A few weeks ago, Jesse Jones came to Alderwood Mall to collect food for NW Harvest. It was a rare brilliantly blue morning in Seattle. I took my miserable bounty from the NW Harvest food bank to show Mr. Jones what people who have to rely on them actually get. When he looked into my bag, I thought he was going to wretch. Our eyes connected. I will never forget the compassion in his eyes.
He handed me his card. I shared my dubious feelings that I would ever speak to him. He shook my hand with the firm grip of a person with profound integrity, and he smiled.
I bawled all the way home and told Bitzie that everything was going to be OK because we’ve got Jesse Jones in our corner.
He called me while I was at the food bank the next week to get yet another miserable bounty of food. Later that day, I learned that I’ll be homeless at the end of the month.
This will be the fifth Christmas in my life with the horrendous threat of homelessness dangling over my head like the sword of Damocles. The PTSD episodes are absolutely unbearable. When I hear news reports of the death of an amazing person, I wish I could trade places with them.
Yesterday, I got up at 6:30 to be at the county’s 211 offices to try to get funds for my January rent. I quickly discovered that the guy who is getting paid big bucks by the county to prevent homelessness had sent me on a wild goose chase. I also discovered that he needlessly put me through inordinate stress during our meeting last week. He’s in the hospital now recovering from a horrific car accident, and I’m embarassed to admit that I hope this Scrooge is getting a few visits from Dickens’ Christmas ghosts. I know I’m not the only person who feels this way.
My next stop was at Volunteers of America to pick up a gas voucher that wasn’t, in fact, ready. Then, I drove to the food bank. Last week I rescued a toddler who was about to be sandwiched between two cars whose drivers couldn’t see him obliviously dancing in the parking lot. I felt confident that Karma would smile on me and grant me the blessing of a low lottery number this week. The food bank had honeydew melons and other fresh produce. But, I ended up at the end of the line for the sixth week in a row. By the time it was my turn, the only thing left was a pile of empthy carbohydrates.
I couldn’t stop the tears that came gushing out of my eyes. As I drove out of the parking lot, I knew that I needed to try to “Get Jesse” if I was to have any hope of survival.
I called him as soon as I got home. I was stunned that he picked up the phone. After I shared my story, the phone was so silent I thought he’d hung up. No. He didn’t know what to say.
Finally, he shared that he was going on a leave of absence. I foolishly assumed it was to help out a relative or a friend in trouble. He said they were working on a press release for the evening news.
I watched KING5 at 5:00 and 6:30. No word about Jesse Jones. I valiantly tried to stay awake for the 11:00 broadcast and failed. When I saw the press release on their website, I felt like a jerk whining to Jesse about my problems:
Jesse has already had two tumors successfully removed and will now begin immunotherapy. His doctors say because he is young and in good health, they are optimistic the treatments will destroy the last bit of cancer.
Mr. Jones appears to be robust. He’s six feet tall and says he weighs 260. His loyal viewers had no idea he’s been battling kidney cancer which has now spread to his lungs. We so often see people like Jesse Jones as invincible without thinking about the toll their warrior endeavors takes on their bodies. We forget they have families and loved ones. He told his fans on Twitter:
I’d like to thank everyone for their well wishes. I will beat this disease because I have the support of friends, family and fans. Be good!
In researching this post, I learned that Jesse Jones’ grandfather was from North Carolina. He was in the Navy during World War II and stationed at Bremerton. The family settled in Tacoma while his father ~ Jesse Jones, Sr. ~ served in the Army as a military police officer. After retiring at the rank of major from the Army, Mr. Jones, Sr. worked as a security officer and investigator for Boeing. He believes his son learned investigative skills from the stories he brought home from work.
His mother, Mary Ann Jones, told the Tacoma News Tribune:
He’s always cared about people. He doesn’t like it when anybody messes with anybody, especially with seniors or children.
Mr. Jones is deeply in love with his wife Kim and their adopted daughter Cydney. They don’t live far from me. He loves to play golf.
He told the Seattle Times:
I will fight this with all I have, and I look forward to getting back to fighting other people’s battles again in February.
In retrospect, I am profoundly humbled that he was more concerned about my welfare yesterday than he was about his own. We made a date to talk later this month. In the meantime, he promised me that he’s going to take it on ~ without saying “it” was cancer ~ and win. His boss executive news producer Mark Ginther told the Times:
He has a proper perspective on things. He’s a fighter; he’s somebody that’s going to look this square in the eye and tackle it.
Jesse Jones has a great attitude about life and an incredibly huge heart. I pray that he will get the best possible care, be surrounded with love and compassion, and will recover swiftly and completely. He’s one of the good guys.
If you don’t live in the Seattle area or in Baltimore or Cincinnati where he was on the air, you can get a sense of why we love him so much by watching this funny one-minute YouTube video of Jay Leno calling to “Get Jesse” to deliver a salmon to the Tonight Show. You can see the football player in him. You can see the love and compassion. And, you can hear his trademark staccato, “JESSE JONES. . .KING5 News!”
Jesse, I wish you a speedy recovery and the blessing of great health. We all love you and wish you well.