Children’s Cancer Run Has Special Meaning for GCU Academic Counselor
By Michael Ferraresi
GCU News Bureau
Jessica Louis was 8 years old when she collapsed at a California church where her father had just been named youth pastor.
At the time, her stunned parents noticed she was pale and weak. The rush to the hospital revealed she had leukemia. One doctor estimated she had a 25 percent chance of survival. But the little girl fought her way through more than two years of chemotherapy.
Now 29, Louis is cancer-free and working as an academic counselor at GCU’s Peoria Avenue office. She helps students navigate their coursework for the Ken Blanchard College of Business and College of Arts and Sciences.
Louis said she plans to attend the Run to Fight Children’s Cancer on March 10 on the GCU campus with her daughters, Abby, 6, and Bella, 2, to support families facing what her family faced.
“It shows Grand Canyon is involved in the community, really taking time to focus on those important goals,” said Louis, who is in the process of completing a master’s degree in general psychology through GCU. It’s her second psychology-related master’s degree.
The 5K and 10K races raise funds to support the non-profit Children’s Cancer Network, which provides everything from emotional support to academic scholarships to children battling cancer. In October, the inaugural event raised $30,000, which largely aids families struggling to cover cancer-related expenses.
Louis, an Arizona native, grew up in southern California before returning to attend Arizona State University as an undergraduate. She said she enjoys working at GCU because it emphasizes personalized education and Christian values.
“Grand Canyon takes care of its employees,” she said. “We are given the leeway to go above and beyond for our students.”
Louis has worked at GCU for two years. Her husband, Justin, works as a GCU enrollment manager. Her brother, Luke Hansen, also work for the University.
Her brother said he can still remember being kept from seeing his sister for three months because of the seriousness of her recovery from leukemia.
Hansen said the Run to Fight Children’s Cancer is “an important event to raise support for the many children out there who are going through what Jessie went through and to honor those who made it through.”
Looking back on the impact of cancer on his family, he said he was thankful that his sister won the bout — and hopes her story might inspire others to keep fighting.
“Her faith and God’s grace have been with her through many trials,” Hansen said. “I am proud to see her succeeding here at GCU and the woman she has become over the years.”
To register for the spring edition of the Run to Fight Children’s Cancer, which will start and finish at GCU Arena for its 5K (3.1-mile) and 10K races, go to www.runtofightcancer.com.
Contact Michael Ferraresi at 639.7030 or Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org.