On the outside, Jackson Fiorentino is a typical kid. The Canandaigua boy loves playing sports, using his iPad, watching the Green Bay Packers and beating his little brother at video games. On the inside, though, he’s something really special – a youngster who thinks of others first.
A great loss sparked Jackson’s philanthropy. He and his grandmother, Jean Fiorentino, were very close. After school, he and his little brother, Ryder, would take the bus to her house where they’d have a snack, watch TV and play cards. Often, Jackson would go there on weekends just to sit and talk with Jean.
When she passed away last year, Jackson was devastated. Jean had survived cancer twice in a 10-year period, but a sudden stroke and her death three days later happened so quickly that Jackson had difficulty understanding why she had been taken away.
The idea of making a donation in his grandmother’s name came about when Jackson overheard his grandfather, Frank, talking about donating to the Sands Cancer Center all the money the family received in condolence cards. With his 9th birthday party just a few weeks away, Jackson came up with a plan: He made 15 invitations and included a note asking all his friends to give him $10 - instead of a gift - to donate to the cancer center in memory of his grandmother.
“This was a huge sacrifice for him,” said his mom, Melissa. “But at age 9, he said he had everything he needed and he really wanted to do something in his grandma’s name.”
Jackson still misses his grandma, but his philanthropic efforts helped him deal with his grief.
“It felt good doing it because I loved her,” Jackson explained, “and I just wanted to help other people who have cancer.”
The Sands Cancer Center combines an outpatient infusion center with a radiation oncology department, providing compassionate treatment for adults with many types of cancers and hematologic disorders. As part of UR Medicine’s Wilmot Cancer Institute, Sands provides access to the most comprehensive and advanced care in the region.