Oregon State University logo

A legacy of health, hope and joy

Jason Seeley

Teresa Seeley remembers walking down the hall at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital with Jason, her 3-year-old son who had just completed another treatment for his cancer.  As a baby began to cry in the distance, Jason tugged at his mom’s jacket, looked up at her, and said “Mommy, you have to go hold that baby, he’s crying.”  That moment says it all about Jason Seeley, who lived 23 very full years, putting others first, finding the joy in each day, humor when others couldn’t, and, despite his lifelong battle with cancer, planning a career helping prevent childhood obesity and diabetes following his June 2007 graduation.   Jason died in October 2007, but his legacy of patience, determination, humor, courage, and grace endures.

In addition to his studies in exercise and sport science, Jason worked as a personal trainer and fitness technician at OSU’s Dixon Recreation Center.  His personal motto was “One’s personal health and wellness is of the utmost importance and each day is a day that we are to help make a difference.”  He had a passion to help people and he was a great team player with the ability bring people together around difficult issues.  Jason’s outlook was perennially positive and the memory of this his infectious laughter and Jim Carey impressions lives on.

During his final months, his family never left his side.  “I slept on an air mattress at the foot of his bed and would wake him every 4 hours to turn him, and give him more medication,” recalls his sister Nichol.  “The family rotated who was on duty for the evening, but I always slept on that air mattress.  I would listen to him breath or sometimes he would wake up and want to talk.  A few months before he passed, he and I had a really deep conversation.  He told me I had the hard job — to go on without him.  He wanted to make sure we would be okay.  My selfless brother – always looking out for someone else!”

Nichol talked to Jason about how to honor him and they decided on a golf tournament with proceeds going the College of Health and Human Sciences at OSU and the Ronald McDonald House.  “He thoroughly enjoyed his experience as a Beaver, and to this day regardless of how many Duck friends I have, my brother’s school pride and loyalty rings out in me” quips Nichol.  “OSU was probably the first place he truly felt at home while in school — his professors, students, friends and school environment combined created a community atmosphere that allowed him to thrive.”

After a few years of adjusting to the loss of their son and brother, Teresa, Bob and Nichol Seeley established the Jason Seeley Undergraduate Research Memorial Award in the College of Health and Human Sciences.  “This was the same time the college was breaking ground for the new Hallie Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families – it was serendipitous,” says Teresa.  “The award in Jason’s name will support students doing research in pediatric cancers, childhood nutrition, obesity prevention and diabetes management – his passions in school.”  Dean Tammy Bray says, “These are critical challenges for our youth and we are proud to honor Jason’s wishes by supporting students doing prevention work to assure lifelong health and well being.

The Third Annual Play Fore Jay Golf Tournament is scheduled for May 22, 2011 at Stone Creek Golf Club in Oregon City.  Teresa relishes the opportunity to connect with everyone, especially Jason’s friends.  “When you lose a child, you lose a whole realm of people you were close to,” she says.   More than 125 golfers turnout and another 75 or usually come to the barbecue… a fitting tribute to a young man who lived to encourage others and, according to co-workers at OSU’s Dixon Rec Center, “was positive 98% of the time despite his health challenges.” 

You are invited to contribute to the Jason Seeley Undergraduate Research Memorial Award by sending a note of interest for the golf tournament or by visiting the OSU Foundation website.