PRESIDENT’S VOLUNTEER AWARD

A little over a month ago Natalie and I were invited to Zermatt (Utah) to be given the President’s Volunteer Award, which was awarded to us in 2016, under the Obama Administration.

... when we lose ourselves in the service of others, grief shrinks and we somehow find ourselves … a slightly better version than the one before.
— Christopher M. Jones | Mitchell's Journey

The award is meant to recognize people who make meaningful contributions to the betterment of society through various forms of service.

Lindsay Hadley (the woman on the right of this photo) and Philip Webb (the man on the left) are both more deserving of such an award. They do so much to help others, with no thought of what they’d get in return. They are the epitome of goodness and abundance. In fact, they have both played a special role in helping Mitchell’s Journey grow and develop.

They are both involved in an organization called Thankful™, which is a non-profit focused on helping make the world a happier place by recognizing and celebrating everyday Thankful moments. I love everything about that organization’s philosophy and efforts. I am grateful (Thankful) they took note of what we’re trying to do at Mitchell’s Journey.

So, we were humbled to be recognized for a brief moment that day – but we knew there was still work to do and people to help. This now hangs on our wall with glad hearts – and we’ve since rolled up our sleeves and got back to work.

I miss my son a great deal. I know Natalie does, too. Though we cannot surgically remove grief, like a tumor to the soul, I have learned we can treat it with gratitude and serve to others. It is my observation that when we lose ourselves in the service of others, grief shrinks and we somehow find ourselves … a slightly better version than the one before.

 
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EMMY

Last Friday I arrived at my office and discovered a beautiful gold box with a hand written note attached. It was from Candice Madsen, the remarkable woman who produced that 30 minute story on Mitchell’s Journey which aired on television last October. I had learned that her story was nominated for a regional Emmy last month, and about a week ago I discovered it won. 

Inside this gold box was the actual Emmy award. In her note she said she wanted our family to have it and encouraged us to “shine on”. I’ve cried several times … both over her kind gesture as well as the price that was paid for such a story to even exist. 

I will forever be grateful for Candice and KSL who shared our son’s story with such honest, yet tender care. Never once did we sense we were being exploited or that their efforts were for ratings or prestige. Instead, they seemed to care more about the story itself and its real impact on others. 

I didn’t know any of the people they featured in this spot until after I lost my son. Over time, each of these remarkable people and families shared some of their experience with me and they have each become dear friends to me – and my life is richer because of it. In fact, I have been blessed to come to know so many of you. I read your every single comment, I ponder your heartbreak and find myself praying specifically for many of you who share your struggles. I am also inspired by your love, compassion and hope. 

Just recently I had an exchange with a woman from a far-away country. She described a bit about her journey to rekindle her faith and had questions. I shared a little about my thoughts and experience with God. She then tried a few things I suggested and she wrote back that she immediately sensed something different. A month later she wrote me again and said she was experiencing an inner awaking. My heart was overflowing. 

I am always grateful to hear how Mitchell’s Journey is making a difference. The Gabriel Award and now the Emmy … it is nice to know other institutions recognize this little story on the internet. Yet, in truth, what motivates me aren’t accolades or the honors of society; instead, I am deeply moved when I discover your private stories of faith, hope and healing. It is the invisible stories … stories that exist far under the radar of Hollywood and news circuits that move my soul. 

I am inspired by you.

One day, all that society has worked so hard to build will come crashing to the earth – everything will become nothing. The only thing that will remain is what we have become. What we make of our souls.

I have a long way to go – but I have my Father and the hope of seeing my sweet son again to guide me.

instagram.com/mitchells_journey/

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For those that haven’t seen KSL's piece on Mitchell's Journey, here is a link:https://www.ksl.com/?sid=31804270

https://www.facebook.com/Candice-Madsen-KSL-417742541757218/?fref=ts

http://rockymountainemmy.org/

THE GABRIEL AWARD

A few months ago (the day before Mitchell’s birthday, in fact) I was informed that KSL, our local NBC news affiliate, was given the Gabriel Award for their short documentary on Mitchell’s Journey. According to the organization, "The single most important criterion of a Gabriel winning film or program is its ability to uplift and nourish the human spirit." 

When Candice Madsen, a producer-turned-friend, told me about the honor they received for their work (her work) on Mitchell’s Journey, I wept. I wept deeply for my son and wished there was some other way. At the same time my heart was breaking, I was awash with a feeling of peace – for I knew the work of the soul was far more important than that of our mortal bodies. Still, I missed my little boy and fell to my knees in a most curious blend of grief and gratitude. Grief that I lost him, gratitude that I had him.

I do not seek attention or recognition. As I’ve said before, I wished only to live out my life in the quite of our backyard and comfort of our living room … invisible to the world. This page … it was only meant to be a quiet place to update friends and family. And though it has grown a little since then, I hope it remains a quiet place of reflection on life & love, souls and suffering and our Father’s tender mercies. 

 

HONORING MY SON

A few days after Mitchell passed away we received a very personal letter from Representative John Knotwell expressing his sincere condolences. I remember reading his heart-felt letter and being moved to tears because he, a stranger to us, cared so much. He wasn't looking for recognition. But he, being a father, recognized our hurt and felt after us … and he served us by mourning with us.

Once again I was on the receiving end of that magnificent doctrine of mourning with those that mourn. So many of you have done the same for us – and we are deeply grateful. 

Fast-forward a year (today) and Rep. Knotwell, who still cared, visited our home with two memorials in honor of our fallen son: a state flag that had been flown in memory of Mitch near the day of his passing and an official citation from the state recognizing our son, his journey and legacy. As I read the words of the citation I was so moved by its thoughtfulness – I fought back tears. There was nothing perfunctory about it. That state document was heart-felt and very much in touch.

We visited a while and I could tell by the questions he asked and the comments he made that he cared. After he left my home I went to my office and quietly shut my door and had a deep moment … a moment of grief and gratitude.

My wife and I want to thank Speaker Rebecca Lockhart and Rep. John Knotwell for recognizing our son and family. Though we wish with all our heart we were living out our lives under the canopy of anonymity, we are so grateful for the empathy, service, and goodness of others. For all of you who reach out in love, know that you make heavy hearts a little lighter.

Today I was reminded that people are good. Very good.

 

MITCHELL'S JOURNEY FOUNDATION

After Herriman City Council read their proclamation and voted in the affirmative to dedicate his birthday as the "Mitchell Jones Day" I addressed the council and said the following:

"We are grateful to the Herriman City Council, especially Mayor Mills, who have graciously recognized our son, Mitchell and what his unique and difficult journey has meant to so many people.

Because Mitchell’s Journey has had a global reach and touched people on a very personal level, we have decided to start a foundation called Mitchell’s Journey wherein we will better organize our efforts to help raise awareness for Muscular Dystrophy, partner with the Parent Project MD, and offer help and support to others who face similar struggles. 

Mitchell’s Journey has put in motion conversations in the medical community [on a national level] that we’re told will change the landscape of cardiac care for children who have Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. This is no small thing. And we are grateful that Mitchell’s Journey has become a catalyst for progress.

Mitchell’s Journey has become more than a beacon for Muscular Dystrophy awareness, it has also served as a human spark … awakening in tens of thousands of people across the world a renewed commitment to faith, family and humanity. This was something we never anticipated. Mitchell’s Journey has become a source of inspiration for people across all walks of life. 

In fact, the majority of followers are not afflicted with any disability at all. This reality sugests there are often more than broken bodies that need mending. On some level, we are all broken ... and perhaps through Mitchell’s Journey people are finding meaning and purpose with their own struggles. For this we are grateful.

On Saturday April 27th, two days before Mitchell’s Birthday, we will have our first organized fundraiser. Details for that event will be announced to the media, through our Facebook page and other mediums. 

In the meantime, we are deeply grateful for the support we’ve received so far and hope to pay that goodness forward and bless the lives of others through Mitchell's Journey.

Thank you."