When Jeff Hobson was diagnosed with a form of leukemia, the congregation mobilized into action.
Hobson, 33, is Pilgrim Lutheran Church’s youth director. He has acute myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow.
“The kids are wildly fond of him,” said Lise Hedegaard, a church staff member. “They respect him, and he has built a rapport with them.”
To support Hobson and his family — he’s married with three young children — the church will take donations during the Christmas program.
The presentation of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” will show at 4 p.m. Dec. 14-15. Admission is free, but donations will go to support the Hobsons and their medical bills.
Hobson, who is receiving chemotherapy treatment in Seattle, has been the youth director since 2004, Hedegaard said. It’s his second round with a serious illness. He was treated in 2001 for aplastic anemia, Hedegaard said.
As a youth director, Hobson works primarily with teenagers and college-aged students, Hedegaard said.
Hobson recently suggested the kids take a “no text Sunday” pledge to set aside phones, computers and TV and spend time with their families.
“He wanted them to turn the outside world off for a few hours,” Hedegaard said.
Eighth-grader Ally Lessard, who is part of the youth group, said Hobson is just like a big kid.
“He does have moments when he gets down to business, but he is always welcoming and always good to have a conversation with,” Lessard said. “He is always there for us.”
Lessard said the kids at the church were shocked when they heard about Hobson’s illness, so they started to make cards for him.
“We got our team at Pilgrim Youth together to see what we could do for Jeff,” she said. “We made a lot of cards for him and his family.”
Hedegaard said church leaders started a Facebook page to promote awareness of Hobson’s illness.
The Christmas performance is a fun play with a serious message, Hedegaard said. The congregation hopes the community will come together to support Hobson.
“By attending the play, they will be benefiting a young family,” Hedegaard said.
Those who can’t attend but wish to donate to the Hobson family can mail a check to Pilgrim Lutheran Church with “Jeff Hobson” in the memo line. The check can be sent to the church at 10510 136th St. E., Puyallup, WA 98374. The Hobson family will receive all of the donations.
The church’s congregation hopes Hobson will make a complete recovery.
“It is so upsetting that he is sick, but it is always nice to know that God is watching over him,” Lessard said.Joan Cronk is a freelance reporter for the Herald.