In May 1991, 15-month old Jordan Stuart from Scotts Valley, CA was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor. For the next year, Jordan battled the disease with chemotherapy, radiation, two major brain surgeries and 11 additional surgical procedures at Stanford Children's Hospital and UCSF Medical Center. During a good portion of the time, Jordan and his family lived at Family House, where they found refuge, support and compassion from a caring staff, as well as camaraderie from other families enduring similar tragedies. Sadly, Jordan lost his battle on May 7, 1992.
The following year, Jordan's dad, Rob Stuart, initiated the Jordan Stuart Memorial Charity Golf Tournament to honor his son's memory as well as raise awareness, financial support and emotional comfort for other families of children with pediatric cancer. During each tournament, Rob invited local children with cancer and their families as his special guests.
In 1995, Rob invited four year-old Kyra Pillsbury and her family to the tournament. Radiant, dynamic, loving and articulate, Kyra had been diagnosed with an aggressive, malignant brain tumor just after her third birthday. She and her family had spent the entire summer of 1994 living at Family House, but now seemed to be responding well to treatment. Kyra's uncle, David Pillsbury, who was a top executive at American Golf Corporation at the time, flew from Southern California to play in the tournament, and pledged support for Rob's charitable efforts from the non-profit American Golf Foundation. Thus began a lasting friendship and mutual bond between the Stuart and Pillsbury families, which continues today. Tragically, after a year and a half of hospital stays, chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, needle pokes, blood draws and transfusions, Kyra died at home on February 15, 1996. Flashing her family the sign-language short-hand for “I Love You” even after she could no longer speak, this gesture remained symbolic as it evolved into the design of the Foundation logo.
In 1996, the name of the tournament was changed to the Jordan and Kyra Memorial Charity Golf Tournament in memory of both children, and a Foundation was established to augment the event's fundraising efforts. To date, national fundraising at golf courses and clubs, combined with tournament proceeds, have generated over $4 million in funding for Family House, as well as research being conducted at Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center aimed at eradicating pediatric cancer as a life-threatening illness.– previously spearheaded by Dr. Mark Israel, MD, and most recently under the direction of Dr. Matthew Havrda, PhD. Funds also support Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Support Services, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses by supporting their families in the challenges they face.
Make a tax-deductible donation to the Jordan and Kyra Memorial Foundation.