Tracie Leeper is Jack Leeper's mom, and shared this lovely story about Jack for the TouchOurFuture artwork. Scroll down to see Jack's hand below.
Jack was the sweetest boy you would ever know. He was full of energy and was always smiling, despite the inevitable sadness and challenges he was going through. Jack was diagnosed with Leigh's Disease, and his life was taken at just 18 months old in February of 2015. Despite his toughest days, he always pushed through and remained happy and at times, mischievous. He could not sit, stand or crawl, but no matter what, he could manage to do what he set out to do and always find ways to get into trouble! He loved dixieland Jazz and oldies music and would light up at listening to it. He really loved hitting the piano keys himself.
There is no cure for Leigh's, and is classified as a mitochondrial disorder. Out of the 24,000 genes that make up humans, one defective gene completely effected his body, the SURF1 gene. It prevented him from powering his body which ultimately hit his respiratory system, and he passed peacefully in his sleep. Many different genes can cause Leigh's, SURF1 is the most common. Jack had a very progressive version of Leigh's as it presented quickly when he was 10 months old. Even though he was facing a terminal disease, he was happy everyday and never, ever gave up... all the way up to the end.
Before Jack was born, we purchased zoo animal artwork for his room. It wasn't until after his passing, we noticed the elephant was captioned "Reach for the Stars." From his Christmas photo and this caption, we made bracelets saying this quote. After handing out these bracelets at Jack's life celebration, Jack's Travels was born. People started to take pictures everywhere of themselves wearing them. Jack now gets to travel to places that he would never be able to physically see, but now he can through all of us. Jack has been around the world and is truly reaching for the stars and making them shine brighter on us.