Website Hopes to Win Grant in Honor of Cancer Victim
Jeffrey Newbauer Jr.'s cause lives on through Gen Eff website
When Jeffrey Newbauer Jr. graduated from Twinsburg High School in 2002, he was eager to begin his first year at the University of Toledo. Sadly, he was only there for one semester.
During that first semester he went to the university physician after he found a lump in his testicle. The physician didn’t believe it was anything serious and gave Jeffrey some medication.
It wasn’t until he went to the Cleveland Clinic that Jeffrey and his family discovered a mass the size of a basketball in his chest. He was diagnosed with Stage Four Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer that strikes large muscles in older children and young adults.
For the next three years the cancer would go into remission only to come back again several times. It was at this point in his life that Jeffrey decided to take a stand and help other kids become more aware of how at risk they are. In Summer 2006 he embarked on the “Cancer Sucks Ballpark Tour,” visiting 26 of 30 Major League Baseball stadiums wearing specially designed shirts to create awareness. He even received attention from national media.
Jeffrey passed away in October of 2006 at the age of 22.
“He wanted to make sure that what happened to him didn’t happen to anyone else,” his father, Jeffrey Newbauer Sr., said. “So we made a commitment to him that we would continue on with his work.”
Part of that promise was the continuation of the Gen Eff website, devoted to helping young adults better understand the risks of cancer and how it can be misdiagnosed. He wanted to empower kids to be their own health care advocates.
“If Jeffrey would have stood up and asked more questions of his doctor and challenged his physician, maybe he would have had an earlier diagnosis and maybe he would be here with us today,” Newbauer said.
Gen Eff started a group called Voices as a way to reach out to young adults to spread the message in different ways such as music, dance and even comedy.
“He (Jeffrey) wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people and that was his thing,” Newbauer said. “He wanted to do it in a way that was different than what was currently being done and that’s how Gen Eff was born.”
Now Gen Eff is in the final days of a contest in the Pepsi Refresh Project. They are competing against nearly 370 other organizations for 10 $50,000 grants. Newbauer said he wants to use the money to start up more Voices groups around the state and even the country.
The contest is only for the month of January and ends Jan. 31. Users can vote for the organization of their choice by texting, voting on the Pepsi Refresh website or using the Facebook page. Supporters can use all three methods to vote every day.
Newbauer said Gen Eff is 150 spots back, but he feels they could get the money if they could just get the word out.
“I think if we can get to all of Jeffery’s contacts, all of his friends from college, Twinsburg High School, if everybody voted, I think we would surge ahead,” Newbauer said. “I think if we could pull it off in the next day or so we still could. I just don’t know that I could reach that many people that fast.”
Even if Gen Eff doesn’t get enough votes by the end of the month, Newbauer said he will try again in an attempt to spread Jeffrey’s message.
“He didn’t want to believe his short life would just whiz by and people would forget who he was,” Newbauer said. “So he decided to take on this cause of making people aware that young adults can and do get cancer and you can do something about it.”