Joseph Sayles had a certain catchphrase, his mother Rachel recalled. He would say, “Stick with me, and I’ll take you to the top.”
The saying was directed to his friends and family— specifically his little brother Kenneth, who had a saying of his own. He always urged the people around him to live life to the fullest.
On March 3, 2016, Joe died of a heart attack and, on April 6, 2016, Kenneth died after a long battle with glioblastoma brain cancer. Their parents Jonathan and Rachel moved to eastern Texas that July to honor Joe and Kenneth, who wanted to attend college there.
They had since formed the Sayles and Sayles Foundation to raise awareness and funds toward organizations that treat heart disease and cancer. And on June 22, they held its first fundraising gala at Verdi’s in Westbury.
“We know other people are going through the same thing and we just want to help somebody else,” Jonathon said. “Life is no good unless you’re helping others.”
Jonathan is a pastor and Rachel is studying to get her doctorate in health administration. On moving to Texas, Jonathan said that the two found solace in the start of their foundation and the knowledge that their children would be remembered. “All of the sudden I saw some hope and some life come back into our lives,” Jonathon said.
Joe was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes in his early 30s and later developed neuropathy-nerve damage. He loved music and played the drums, still keeping up with his passion through the illness and forming his own company Firestorm Entertainment.
When he was nine, Kenneth had started experiencing partial seizures in his face and his parents discovered that he had a pea-sized tumor on his brain. He started taking medication to stop seizures and neurologists advised his parents not to worry about the tumor. However, he was diagnosed with brain cancer when he was 14.
Kenneth loved football and kept saying that he would continue to play football when his treatment was over. He was a dedicated student at W.T. Clarke High School as well and, his father Jonathan said, “He never gave up on his studies, even when he was suffering.”
Jonathan spoke to room full of family members, Joe’s lifelong friends and Kenneth’s high school friends at Verdi’s on June 22. “I see the love that was exemplified in my son in this room tonight,” he said.
The fundraiser included a speech from several organizations that the Sayles and Sayles Foundation is aiding, including American Heart Society, Make-A-Wish Foundation and Memorial Sloan Kettering pediatric ward.
The foundation will also be dedication a scholarship in the name of their children, which will go toward a W.T. Clarke graduating senior who is looking to pursue music or football.
For more information, visit www.saylesandsaylesfoundation.org.