The Jimmy V “Perseverance” Award

July 14, 2017
By: Cassie Schmidt

The first time I watched the infamous Jimmy V speech I was probably about 10, it was obviously a replay being that I was not even born until 1995, 2 years after the speech and the great Jimmy Valvano had passed. But I would like to think that this speech had changed my perspective a little that day, as I’m sure it did for many. I then looked forward each year to the ESPY’s to get to see that replay of that great speech. 

It was another year and as always I awaited that Jimmy V Award.. I had heard of Jarrius Robertson and had seen him on so many different platforms (Ellen, NBA & NFL Events, etc.) But this was the first time I watched and relived his back story. I really was able to get the chance to learn more about Jarrius, the 14 year old battling a liver disease who quite literally had a miracle happen to him. When Jarrius was only at the age of one, he had a liver transplant but complications arose leaving him in a coma for a year. A year later the decision was made to take out the respirator but that was when Jarrius decided he was not done with his fight. The respirator was out, but strong baby Jarrius kept on breathing and not even the doctors could tell you how. His mom knew though, “It was a miracle- Nothing but God”. Jarrius underwent countless surgeries and battled through his disease called biliary atresia, and with the help of his website of his foundation “it takes lives, to save lives”,  he was able to raise awareness of organ donation and how important it can be. 

On April 30th he received another live transplant but continued to raise awareness for his foundation and their mission. When Jarrius would go out to events or go to the New Orleans Saints practices, or pretty much anything at all he carries an enthusiastic presence that would never lead you to believe this kid was or is in any kind of pain. His dad said “After these events Jarrius would get back in the car and ask for his pain medication, I asked if he was really in pain all that time because it did not show for a second”. That shows this kids tenacity and selflessness and all at the ripe young age of 14. 

Jarrius Robertson got on stage with his father and mother and his very first words were, “Don’t give up..” His dad followed “Don’t ever give up”. Jarrius continued, “These very words are the words I have lived by my entire life”. And that he has. Jarrius put his life on hold and his pain aside to help others and to raise awareness and money for such a special foundation. 

Jimmy Valvano’s speech and his plan behind his speech were to inspire people to be the best and do the very best they can, not just of themselves but for others. He wanted us to “laugh, think, and cry” every single day to have that full life. Jarrius has taken these words spoken by someone before his lifetime and made them a reality. I can just see Jimmy V looking down on such a special young kid and being incredibly thankful and happy for his legacy and thoughts living on.