In Kids & Family

Jo Ann Thrailkill is dedicated to fighting childhood cancer with love.

Pablove co-founder channels loss into hope

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OMC: What was Pablo like in personality?

JT: Vivacious, clever, inquisitive – bubbling over with an energy and joy to experience the world around him. I'll never know what it's really like to experience cancer treatment as a 5-year-old child, but Pablo handled it with more bravery and positivity than I've seen from any adult.

OMC: When and how did Pablove come about?

JT: When Pablo was diagnosed, it was immediately apparent to Jeff and I that this community of childhood cancer families and caregivers needed help. No awareness, no money for research, lacking programs for kids and parents. We just didn't know what that was going to be, or ever anticipate what The Pablove Foundation would grow into.

The mission of The Pablove Foundation formed out of our own experiences as a cancer family. Funding innovative research on the underdogs – the rare childhood cancers – so no parent is told there are no options. Educating families through symposiums: you can only Google something so many times before you are in a constant feedback cycle. Parents need direct access to experts, and to each other.

And of course, helping kids with cancer just be kids through our photography program, Pablove Shutterbugs. Pablo was a burgeoning photographer. He'd snap pictures with anything he could get his hands on – my iPhone, PhotoBooth on our laptops, Jeff's old Blackberry. We cherish those photos now, and saw the impact that creative expression made on his life. Our personal experiences informed the impact we knew we needed to make in the childhood cancer world.

OMC: What aspect of Pablove are you most proud of?

JT: It's so hard to pick just one thing to be proud of. Every Pablove Shutterbugs graduation, every symposium where I see families having one-on-one conversations with the "rock stars" of pediatric oncology – those moments keep me pushing forward.

But I think that the research we fund makes me the most proud, and the most excited for the future impact our organization will have. Last year marked just our third year funding research, and we've already awarded over $600,000 in grants. These are the best and brightest minds, proposing outside-of-the box ideas that have the potential to transform how we understand and treat childhood cancer. It's an honor for Pablove to play a role in the next breakthrough.

OMC: Does Pablove ease your pain? Does the pain come in waves? Is it constant?

JT: Yes, yes and yes.

OMC: You have an older son, too, right?

JT: My son, Grady, is my first born. I refer to him as "The Teenager," although that nickname won't hold up for long because he will turn 20 this year. Time flies when you are having fun. He is the best, not-on-purpose comedian I know. I'll get text messages from him that make me laugh so loud I turn heads.

When Grady was 9, Pablo was born. He lit up our home, filled our lives with the energy that only a little boy can contain.

OMC: How did you decide on the name Pablo? I love it, by the way!

JT: Jeff and I chose the name "Pablo" because we simply love it. Also, we had narrowed it down to three and presented them to Grady and with zero hesitation he said, "Pablo!"

OMC: Any comment on the upcoming benefit concert?

JT: The concert will mark the fifth annual Pablove Benefit Concert in Milwaukee! Dear friends of ours, Scott Ziel and Doug Johnson of Pursuit Live/Yellow Phone Music Conference, and everyone at the Riverside Foundation and Turner Hall, have put on this benefit concert and have made a significant contribution to our mission every year since 2010.

OMC: Is running Pablove a full time job? What do you do when you're not running the organization?

JT: Serving as Executive Director of The Pablove Foundation is a full-time job, and then some. In my free time, I love to spend time with Grady, go to concerts, practice Bikram and cheer on my New Orleans Saints first, and the Pack second. I'm currently in search of the perfect Sazerac in Los Angeles. No one has matched the ones I can get back home in New Orleans … yet.

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