Aaron Rodgers: The Loss of a Friend

Raymond RivardContributor IIAugust 28, 2012

Jack Bartosz with the Wheaties box he shared with Aaron Rodgers back in 2011.
Jack Bartosz with the Wheaties box he shared with Aaron Rodgers back in 2011.

Jack Bartosz and Aaron Rodgers were friends. Jack died Monday after suffering for many years from neuroblastoma.

He was first diagnosed in September 2005, enduring seven years of doctoring and treatments with little hope for a cure.

The two unlikely friends connected when Rodgers took an interest in the MACC Fund, which provides help to families of children with cancer.

Rodgers also took an immediate liking to Jack.

 In a a recent interview with Wayne Larrivee, Rodgers talked with love and concern about Jack: "The MACC Fund is something I've been able to work with...and the more research I did on what they're doing, the great things, and the families and kids they're helping, I realized we had the same heart about the kids and wanting to give them the opportunity to have a better life."

In describing how he met Jack, Rodgers said, "We got to meet—we did a deal for the MACC Fund."

When asked about why Jack stood out for him, Rodgers said:

You know, his attitude. Here's a kid who doesn't have a hair on his head and has had to do a lot of chemo; he hasn't had the chance to grow up and be a normal kid. I remember when I was nine years old and I was playing basketball, soccer and baseball and, you know, running around loving life and just [being] a normal kid. It just breaks your heart to see Jack dealing with those struggles and to see the families as well and the hardships they had to go through. For me to be able to use my platform and to be a very small part of the MACC Fund and what they do is really special for me.

Jack's family described Rodgers' and Jack's special relationship in a piece published in The Lakeland Times in 2011. The newspaper, based in Minocqua, published the story because Jack's mother was a graduate of Lakeland Union High School, his grandmother was a longtime teacher at the high school and the family had business ties there, a game store named Whoops! which was based in Minocqua and Manitowish Waters.

The story describes how Jack met Aaron and how they came to be on the same Wheaties box.

But it goes beyond that, focusing on the family's unconditional love for Jack, which they reiterated in a statement released just after Jack's death:

It is with heaviest of hearts that we write to tell you that Jack found his ultimate cure yesterday afternoon. Our amazing boy left his tired body so his soul could soar free. As we grieve for the loss of our beloved Jack we also remember Jack's personality, humor, sensitivity and heroism. We are thankful he is at peace yet are missing him so desperately.
It is with heartfelt gratitude that we thank everyone who has supported Jack and our family throughout his courageous fight with neuroblastoma. We are touched and inspired by the sheer number of people who backed Jack, including you the media. Jack touched so many lives, but none greater than that of his loving family.
Our life suffered a dramatic, cruel twist with Jack's cancer diagnosis nearly seven years ago. When we started the I Back Jack Foundation we knew that regardless of Jack's outcome we would remain determined to ensuring Jack's story would result in a happy ending for children unfairly chosen to battle cancer. Jack will always fuel us and inspire us to do more as we continue to raise funds for pediatric cancer research.
While our time with Jack on earth has ended we know that we have a great love that will never be erased. We appreciate your prayers, your support, and your ongoing backing of Jack.

We are all inspired by the courage of this young soul and our hearts go out to his family. We are saddened by the loss, but joyful for what he brought to so many.