King Jay clothes honour late athlete

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The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada has launched a new line of clothes inspired by a St. Albert teen. While Jayden Strauss was fighting stage 4 rhabdomyosarcoma cancer, he became the 25,000th Wish Child when he asked for some custom sneakers.

Tragically, the hockey, soccer and basketball player lost his battle last month but the memory of the feisty youth lives on. The foundation has started selling King Jay branded apparel with four different stylized shoelace designs. The national legacy campaign is a way of helping to make even more dreams come true.

“We’re asking people to join the kingdom by purchasing a piece of King Jay apparel and help us grant the next 25,000 wishes for Canadian children diagnosed with a life-threatening illness like Jayden,” said Lyanne Goulin, the national director of Wish Granting with Children’s Wish.

The foundation grants wishes to children aged 3 and 17 who are diagnosed with a life-threatening illness to help bring some lightness to their life during some very dark times while they are fighting for their lives. It’s been doing this for more than three decades, and fulfills nearly 1,200 wishes every year.

“When Jayden was first told about having a wish, to be honest, he wasn’t interested,” said Jody, his mom.

“He said they should go for kids that are terminal because he believed he was going to end up disease-free. We didn’t push it on him at all. This past spring when we knew his diagnosis wasn’t getting better, we brought it up again with him. He still wasn’t 100 per cent on board but was thinking about it. Two days before his dad was taking him to Mexico for treatment, they went to a basketball game in L.A. and Jayden decided he wanted his wish to be ‘something money couldn’t buy.’ Jayden said he would like to design the perfect basketball shoe and it began.”

When he got the shoes, it gave him a renewed sense of energy, which helped him to stand for the first time in days. When the Children’s Wish Foundation told him about the new King Jay clothes and that it would fundraise for the next 25,000 wishes, he became similarly excited.

“He said ‘See? That’s a wish you could never buy me.’”

People can visit www.kingjay.org to see and purchase the clothes, which include T-shirts, long sleeves, youth hoodies, and baby onesies. The name ‘King Jay’ was based on Jayden’s favourite player, Lebron James, who is also known to sports enthusiasts as King James. The fire logo is itself an homage to Jayden who used to say, “You gotta have fire on your feet.”

The product line was only launched last week but has already gotten some popularity thanks to members of the Miami Heat wearing the gear.

Jody Strauss threw her support behind the products as a way to help others like her son. She said that the products represent people helping sick children in a time of need.

“When wearing King Jay items it will always be a great reminder that you are supporting so many kids from all over Canada.”

When Jayden Strauss was fighting cancer, the Children’s Wish Foundation granted his wish of custom-designed sneakers. Sadly, he passed away last month but the foundation is keeping his memory alive with a new fundraiser called King Jay clothes, proceeds of which will help to provide new wishes for critically ill children. This photo was taken when he first got a look at the new threads and sneakers as his dad James looked on.

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Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.