“Jay it Forward” changes lives of JTHS students of Big Brothers Big Sisters Mentor 2.0
October 30, 2017 11:25 AM
On September 25th, Jay it Forward took 28 Joliet Township High School seniors from the Big Brothers Big Sisters Mentor 2.0 Program on a back-to-school shopping spree at Buckle in the Orland Square Mall.
Jay it Forward is led by Jay Vana’s parents, Thomas and Michele Vana, who are dedicated to performing random acts of kindness to honor Jay Vana’s kind-hearted spirit annually on September 25th, the anniversary of his death. Unfortunately, Jay passed away unexpectedly as a result of a car accident at the age of 16 on September 25, 2012.
A resident of Homer Glen, Jay attended Lockport Township High School. His big heart and even bigger smile impacted those who knew him in many positive ways. Jay would often secretly perform random acts of kindness with family and friends to help those in need. His memory lives on through Jay it Forward.
The students who benefited from this year’s Jay it Forward each received personalized attention and assistance from Jay it Forward team members and had the opportunity to purchase up to $350 worth of clothing each at the Buckle store, all generously paid for by Jay it Forward.
Twin brothers Spencer and Ben Rogina were two of the beneficiaries of this year’s Jay it Forward. Smiling, Joliet West student Ben Rogina said of the experience, “We were treated like celebrities. It was honestly one of the most genuine moments in my life.”
Susan Rogina, mother of the Rogina twins, said, “As a mother, I am touched and moved that Michele and Tom Vana would choose kids they don’t know to honor Jay. Their love for their son came out through what they did for all of those kids, including my sons. We are so grateful.”
Michele Vana said, “Buckle was Jay's favorite store, and I'm sure he would have been thrilled to watch all these young adults shop to their heart's content. This was one of the most humbling experiences we have been a part of to date. To see the genuine gratitude on their faces was life changing. They were all so sweet and it was heartwarming to share Jay's story with them. I found it especially gratifying that some decided to Jay It Forward themselves and spent some of their money on others that could not be there. Truly amazing.”
To learn more and to take part in the Jay It Forward movement, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/jayitforward25/.