Oklahoma Man Stages Marathon Tree House Build for 9-Year-Old Cancer Patient
Jay Cobb knows what it’s like to be a nine-year-old with a second chance at life thanks to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Four decades after winning his own battle with Burkitt lymphoma, Cobb, a 49-year-old civil engineer in Oklahoma, will do almost anything to raise money and awareness for his favorite cause. In addition to TV interviews, podcasts, and hosting a fundraising golf tournament, Cobb has kissed both a cow and a pig for St. Jude. He's even dyed his beard purple.
And in August, Cobb and the community got together to build a backyard tree house for a nine-year-old St. Jude patient named Nate in Oklahoma City.
But nothing Cobb does is that simple. The tree house build took place in a 24-hour period, during which he and his friend Jordan Stevens also completed the equivalent of a marathon — one running and one on a rowing machine.
“Every hour, basically I would go 2,000 meters on the rower and Jordan would run about a mile,” Cobb told St. Jude Inspire. “Then, as soon as we got done with that, we started work on the tree house.”
Their work was done with about 90 minutes to spare. In less than 24 hours, Cobb and his crew had pulled an all-nighter, completed two marathons, and built the tree house of Nate’s dreams.
“Every morning as I leave for work, I look out the back window at the tree house,” Nate's dad Ross told St. Jude Inspire. “It overwhelms me with emotion each morning that people in our community gave up their precious time to make my son’s dream come true.”
For Nate, who is 18 months out from treatment at St. Jude for medulloblastoma, the tree house is a place of his own to hang out and enjoy nature. It’s also the perfect spot from which to shoot people with his Nerf gun.
Nate plans to use the tree house for schoolwork, naps, building with LEGOs, displaying his art, and, when the pandemic ends, playing with friends.
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Cobb, who now has three children and two grandchildren, was once a nine-year-old boy who just got his life back thanks to St. Jude.
Speaking of his unwavering commitment to the nonprofit hospital, Cobb is frank. “When somebody saves your life, you do what you can.”
“It’s kind of a weird thing,” he recalled of his time at St. Jude. “In my experience, it was comforting, knowing there were people there taking care of you and working to make you well, and to fight for you.”