Proceeds from Rock Out Childhood Cancer support pediatric cancer research.

Jackson Radcliffe would be thrilled on Saturday.

He would dance to live music. He would play games. He would be surprised to meet Spider-Man.

“He’s going to be crazy,” said Jackson’s mom, Kayla Radcliffe. “Spiderman is his favorite.”

There was no way for Jackson to do any of this. That’s because the boy with the old soul and charming shy smile passed away on July 12, 2019.

Leukemia took Jackson’s life just three days before his third birthday.

But just because he wasn’t physically at the Evergreen German Club in Ruscombanor on Saturday doesn’t mean he wasn’t taking part in the Rock Out Childhood Cancer fundraiser being held there.

“Rock Out is a memorial to our son Jackson,” Radcliffe’s wife, Melissa Mest, said. “As moms, we are already protective and ready to fight. Our inspiration to keep fighting is based on Jackson.”

The event, which featured live music, food, games, cast cosplay, a raffle and more, raised funds for pediatric cancer research and oncology social work programs.

Spider-Man was one of Jackson Radcliffe’s favorite characters, and here Spider-Man wanders among silent auction items during Saturday’s Rock Out Childhood Cancer event benefiting Jackson’s research at the Evergreen German Club, 415 Hartz Road, Ruscombmanor Township. Spider-Man is played by Temple’s Jason Brown, one of the Cosplayers Care group that participated in the benefit. (BILL HURCH – THE READING EAGLE)

Mest said that through their son’s battle with cancer, he and his wife have made connections with other families who have gone through similar experiences. And even though Jackson’s fight is over, they feel the need to continue in his honor.

“These kids are fighting for their lives day in and day out,” Mest said. “And they just want to be kids. We want to do everything we can to ensure they have the best treatment options and the support they need.”

A married couple from the town of Rockland knows well about the need for support.

They experienced the panic and helplessness that comes with having a child diagnosed with a terminal illness, the despair, hope, anger and defiance that intertwine in the mind.

Jackson was first diagnosed at the age of 18 months. His moms took him to the pediatrician for what they thought was a normal case of pink eye.

But the redness around Jackson’s eyes wasn’t from pink eye. It was similar to the rash known in petechiae, which turned out to be a symptom of leukemia.

The diagnosis instantly and completely changed the lives of the family members.

“If would change us forever,” Radcliffe said.

Mest said the news was more than she could bear, a moment so shaken that memories of him seem shrouded in fog.

“Hearing that your child has a life-threatening condition or disease is terrifying,” Mest said. “When the pediatrician sat us down and said it was like a bomb went off. After that I heard nothing. Kayla sat next to me and cried.”

After that initial shock, however, Radcliffe and Mest quickly switched gears. They knew what they had to do and didn’t let anything stop them from doing it.

“It was battle mode,” Mest said.

The next year and a half was a bare-knuckle fight against an insidious, persistent enemy. Jackson spent much of this time at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The cancer was aggressive, which meant the treatment had to be aggressive as well. This included two bone marrow transplants.

Through it all, Jackson never lost heart. He never lost the spark in his eyes and the love in his heart.

“He was just a bright light for us,” Mest said. “He was everything to us.”

If you would like to help Radcliffe and Mast in their efforts to honor Jackson by continuing his fight against cancer, you can visit their Facebook page at or donate through the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia fundraising website at

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