>>View Jay's story on Keloland News

Jay Tennessen was a 17-year-old senior at Tri-Valley High School in Lyons, SD.  In September 2004, Jay was presented with a life-challenge, which could have devastated his spirit.  He was diagnosed with leukemia.  Jay faced this diagnosis with a determination and faith that was inspirational.  The Jeremiah “Jay” Tennessen Memorial Foundation has been established to honor his courage.

After the diagnosis and beginning of treatments, Jay convinced his parents, doctors, and basketball coach to let him play varsity basketball in spite of the difficulty.  Jay not only played, he started at forward and was the team's second leading scorer.  His efforts and inspiration helped Tri-Valley to a fourth-place finish at the South Dakota Class “A” state tournament and earned Jay all-tourney team honors.

Throughout the season and especially during the tournament, Jay was an inspiration to players and fans throughout South Dakota.  His dogged tenacity on the court helped him overcome his illness and contribute to the team's success.  Off the court, Jay was ready with a quick smile and encouraging word.  Jay's example and spirit carried over to his teammates, classmates, school, and the communities of Tri-Valley.

Jay entered the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, in April 2005 for a bone marrow transplant.  His overriding goal was to get out of the hospital in time to graduate with his class.  Against all odds, Jay realized this dream.  The key ingredient to this miracle was that throughout his illness, Jay maintained a healthy outlook.  He never asked or expected pity or special treatment because of his illness.  During a family trip to California in July, Jay became ill. He was readmitted to the Mayo Clinic where he spent the rest of his life.  His final weeks were physically difficult, but no matter how badly he felt, his main concern was for other people.  He wanted to be sure that his family was doing okay, right up to the end.  Finally, on September 9, 2005, Jay's body could no longer carry on the battle his spirit was waging against the disease.  Surrounded by family, he went home to his Heavenly Father.

Thank you for helping us keep Jay's memory alive.

Tim Tennessen

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  ~Jeremiah 29:11~

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