Janet Leslie – Cause: The JL Foundation

Janet Leslie keeps her daughter’s memory alive with a foundation that aids leukemia patients and their families.

Janet Leslie’s life turned upside down on September 11, 1986. That was the day her 16-year-old daughter, Jennifer, was diagnosed with leukemia. Until then, Janet had been a stay-at-home mother to her three beautiful girls, but on that day, she became a mom on a mission.

“The doctors gave her one to three years to live,” Janet says, “but that didn’t stop her!” Even without a match for the bone marrow transplant she needed, Jennifer persevered for 15 years. While caring for her daughter, Janet also devoted time to the Louisiana Bone Marrow Donor Registry, tirelessly raising funds to have potential donors tested for the statewide program.

In August 2001, Jennifer was finally matched with a donor, but she passed away only a month after the transplant.

“Her family and friends had a strong desire to keep her memory alive,” Janet says. In considering how to honor their daughter, she and husband Bob recalled their experiences during Jennifer’s final months.

“We were very fortunate to have the financial stability to be able to be at Jennifer’s side every day, giving her the comfort, love and support she needed,” Janet says. “During this time, we discovered that there was no outlet for families who were not as blessed as we were and needed financial help.”

And so The JL Foundation was formed in March 2002 with the purpose of providing funds to help families of patients with leukemia cope with out-of-pocket expenses that quickly add up during treatment—airfare, meals, hotel rooms, and other costs not covered by insurance.

Janet manages the day-to-day activities of the foundation, talking to patients and their families, processing requests for assistance, and providing both financial and emotional support. Bob works to secure a steady flow of funds for these families, and community support has been strong, from corporate donations to grants and private gifts.

Notably, 100% of funds raised goes directly to the patients, with no money set aside for salaries or overhead. “My husband and I pay all of the expenses to operate the foundation,” Janet explains. “We believe this fact alone sets us apart from various other nonprofit organizations.”

Since its inception, The JL Foundation has provided financial help totaling more than $840,000 to 299 families.

“Our goal is to continue to serve each and every patient who seeks our assistance,” she says. “As long as there are patients who need our help, we plan to continue raising funds to support this mission.”

For more information, see jlfoundation.org.

What do you love about the volunteer efforts that you do?
Being able to comfort a parent and let them know that we are here to help.

How is your cause making a difference?
The monthly financial assistance the family receives helps relieve one of the burdens they face.

What do you hope to achieve?
To enable families to focus their concerns on their child or loved one—not on worrying about the cost.

What is something we don’t know about your cause?
We help leukemia patients throughout the state of Louisiana, and every penny of support received goes directly to the patients and their families.