Jacob Thompson, the nine-year-old boy who asked for strangers from around the world to send him Christmas cards early to celebrate his last holiday, has died following his battle with cancer.
Thompson was hospitalized in Portland, Maine, in October after a four-year battle with Stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma. Doctors had told his family the child had only a month to live.
Thompson’s parents wanted to give the boy one last Christmas and said their son wanted people to send him Christmas cards.
Within days of his initial request, Thompson had received more than 30,000 cards from around the world.
“We are working through the cards and take time to enjoy each one. We have received cards from families across the globe,” the family said in a statement earlier in November. We are so touched by the heartfelt notes we find and the smiles we see from people and pets in photos.
“Whether the card is purchased or handmade, we know that each card was sealed and delivered with love, with Jacob and his family in mind,” the family said.
The child’s mother, Michelle Simmard, had set up a GoFundMe page in early October to help cover Thompson’s funeral costs.
“No one thinks about having to do this type of planning for their child and because of that we did nor do not have life insurance on him,” reads the description of the fundraiser page. “We are asking for some assistance from family and friends to help support this.”
The family has raised almost $160,000 of their $175,000 goal.
On Sunday, Thompson lost his battle with cancer.
“It is with heavy hearts that we share the news of Jacob’s passing with you,” the family said in a statement. “Jacob passed away peacefully following his 4 year battle with neuroblastoma.
“We hope that Jacob’s story and the enormous outpouring of support from around the world will have a lasting impact on raising awareness for this disease. We hope that donations will be made, and a cure will be discovered as a result. Each and every person who sent Jacob a Christmas card, a gift, a Facebook message or video, or a prayer made a difference in the final days of his life,” the family said.
In addition to receiving cards, Thompson also received visits from the University of Maine men’s hockey team and Santa himself. The family said Thompson loved penguins and they had adopted an emperor penguin chick on behalf of their son through the World Wildlife Fund.
WATCH: Nine-year-old Jacob Thompson received an outpouring of support after it was learned he only had a month to live.
“To make a donation in Jacob’s honor, please do so at Operation Gratitude, to a penguin rescue group, or pay it forward in your community,” the family said in a statement Monday. “Do something for others, donate blood and platelets, or use your talents to bring shelter, nourishment or joy to those in need in honor of Jacob’s memory.
“And most importantly, always remember to #LiveLikeAPenguin for Jacob,” the family said.
— With a file from Jessica Vomiero