In loving Memory of Jarold Joseph Sedlacek
June 29, 1946 — September 22, 2008
This is our pledge. To fight every day for those who suffer; to remember to be thankful for today; to be thankful for this moment because tomorrow isn’t promised. The Challenger Foundation’s inception is a gateway to allow us to continue the fight against cancer so that future families never have to suffer such loss and sadness that ours have faced.
Our family knows first hand, the damages that cancer can cause, as it has devastated many of our direct relatives over the years. Our family has lost both our Father and our Grandfather to different forms of this disease. The Challenger Foundation hopes to honor those two great individuals by referencing a company the two of them built together many years ago—Challenger Electric. The Challenger Foundation is a tribute to these two fathers and we hope it becomes a beacon of hope for others whom are fighting.
John (Gamps) Sedlacek was a family man. He grew up in Nebraska, married his lovely wife and started a family by the age of 22. He was a linebacker for Nebraska University and later inducted into the hall of fame. Gamps was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia—he fought a very hard fight against this disease but eventually we lost him. This was our first personal glimpse at the effects of cancer. Gamps was a pinnacle of strength and honor, he protected his family at all cost; he was our patriarch. The idea of losing him was incredibly hard to grasp.
Jarry Sedlacek (Dad), Gamp’s son was an amazing, loving father and a 6’5” powerful human being—we once saw him bend a steel hitch with his bare hands. Even with all his love, strength and power, he could not hold off such a ferocious disease. Jarry was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), which is a condition that affects the bone marrow and the blood cells it produces. Jarry unfortunately then developed Graph vs. Host Disease (GVHD, which often occurs after a bone marrow or stem cell transplant from a donor).
Acute GVHD effected Jarry within the first three months following his transplant. His immune system turned on him, relentlessly attacking all organs. He suffered a tremendous amount over the next few years and it was in these moments that we, as a family, felt the most helpless. During these times we tried to comfort Jarry as the Jefferson Hospital doctors worked very hard and tried many different approaches to find a solution.
The Challenger Foundation is our pledge to them. To stand up against this disease that takes so many forms. We are starting here, but it doesn’t end here. Today, we pledge to raise money for the physicians and the scientists that are working to find cures. We draw the line here and stand with the families suffering right now as you read this. We launch this foundation to let those victims lying in bed, wondering why they should fight, that they are not alone. Today, we rise hand in hand and bring our fight to cancer.