MISSOULA — The Missoula community is rallying behind a young boy with pediatric cancer and you might’ve seen the Jack’s Army signs around town that are showing support for Jack Berry.
MTN News got a chance to talk with Jack, who said he’s doing well and is looking forward to returning home.
"The harder parts are obviously when you go in for the chemo, but I've been feeling better pretty quickly after I get done with that, and then get back to doing, you know what I like to do," Jack said.
Anybody that knows Jack Berry can tell you that there is a lot the 13-year-old likes to do -- like, CrossFit, playing tennis, biking with jack, skiing, hockey, running, and soccer. But much of that activity is on pause for now. Jack's in Boston with his family, undergoing a third round of treatment for his osteosarcoma.
"There's no way around it, pediatric cancer is horrible," Jack's dad Cooper told us.
But the family is maintaining a positive attitude, staying active, visiting the beach, playing tennis, and seeing the Red Sox. Jack said he's even doing some stuff he can't do back in Montana like fish in the ocean and surf.
"Obviously I want to be like with my friends, and like going to high school on the first day, but I mean, at some point, you just have to come to terms with you can't. And you know your life isn't the normal 13-year-old life. That's fine with me, I feel like I came to terms with that a while ago, but it is kind of hard to not be doing what my friends are doing. But I think we do pretty well with enjoying our time here." - 13-year-old Jack Berry
Missoula is coming out in waves in support. "It takes this thing and it turns it on its head, and people are going out and doing beautiful things," said Cooper.
Climb 4 Jack Challenge on Facebook is inspiring people to get out and do all kinds of activities Jack can't do while he's away.
"Just the idea that someone could go up the mountain for me, or go float the river for me. That's really cool. It helps me to kind of feel like I'm there in a way," Jack said.
There's a visible show of support at the base of Mount Sentinel and all across town. And the Jack's Army signs right outside of the homes on Pattee Canyon are a testament to the supportive community waiting for the Berrys to return back to Missoula.
Family friend Elizabeth Fricke said they've sold out 200 signs to help support the family, many bought by people they don't even know. "People have come to me asking, 'how can I support the Berry's?" she told MTN News. "There's just so many communities that they have touched."
Cooper is a firefighter with the Missoula Rural Fire District (MRFD).
"Our goal is to make it so Cooper doesn't have to think about work, so he can focus completely on his family. We have guys step up and cover all his shifts for him so he can be 100% with his family, and not here, worried about work," Family friend and MRFD Captain Kory Burgess explained.
"I'll figure it out, and we'll keep our family together, and we'll get through this one way or another, but those guys have made it so easy," Cooper said.
It hasn't all been easy, but no matter how hard the treatment gets, the Berry family is looking forward to the future as Jack starts high school in the fall.
"We're gonna be here through October, that's the treatment plan right now. So, still, a long road ahead of us, getting through this treatment cycle," Cooper said. "But our heads are good, and we're strong -- and jacky's super strong. And we're feeling positive and hopeful. And we miss Missoula, and we love all the support, and we can t wait to get home."
The Jack’s Army signs are currently sold out, but they’re ordering more and will be available at the MRFD station on South Reserve Street in the next few weeks. The proceeds are going to the family to support them in Jack's fight.