6 years after child’s death, father buys lunch for oncology unit nurses

(Courtesy: WCMH)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A man whose son passed away more than six years ago is doing something special for the nurses in the unit that treated his son.

JJ Gates was just 3 and a half years old when he passed away. Tuesday, Aug. 29 would have been his 10th birthday. His father, James Gates wanted to do something special for the nurses in the oncology unit at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

“JJ was an amazing, amazing little boy. He was born with a brain tumor so he was born with the pain. So, it was like a norm but one thing that he always wanted to do was make the nurses and his family smile,” says James Gates.

The Gates family spent a lot of time at Nationwide Children’s Hospital trying to get JJ better. One visit alone lasted 59 days.

“During that time, nurses went out of their way, took care of him, took care of our family,” said Gates.

JJ passed away after a 2 and a half year battle, but his father still thinks of the nurses that helped his son.

“What the nurses did for JJ’s life is they made it healthier so he could enjoy it more, and also extended it. So with that, I appreciate it very much. I felt like I wanted to do something and say thank you to the nurses that took care of him,” says Gates.

On Tuesday, Gates along with his two children brought lunch for more than 25 nurses in the outpatient oncology clinic.

“I think JJ would probably do the same thing,” says Gates.

Gates remembers how his son would make everyone smile.

“He would do little things – dance, have little dance moves and just make everybody happy,” says Gates.

“They’re saving those kids’ lives and they are making those kids healthier and extending those lives even if they don’t make it. I could not do that job. So it’s just a way for me to say thank you.”

Later in the day, family and friends released balloons at JJ’s gravesite and had a picnic to celebrate his 10th birthday.