A new job for Joey | RecordCourier.com

A new job for Joey

by Sheila Gardner

Joey Jacobsen has a new gig.

The 13-year-old Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School eighth-grader has been selected Nevada’s “champion child” for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

He was nominated by Renown Children’s Hospital in Reno where he spent several weeks in 2008-09 after he was critically injured in a wood-cutting accident just before Thanksgiving.

“It’s a huge honor for me to be able to do this,” he said Thursday. “I get to do so many things that a lot of people never get to do.”

For the next two years, Joey will be the ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in Nevada.

His new job requires him to be at the Carson City IHOP at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday for National Pancake Day.

“I’ll be seeing a lot of pancakes that day,” he laughed.

IHOPs across the country are dishing up free pancakes, hoping customers will make a contribution to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

That will be followed by an appearance March 17 at the Governor’s Sporting Clay Tournament at Sage Hill Clay Sports. Gov. Brian Sandoval hopes to attend depending on his schedule.

Joey was injured Nov. 22, 2008, in a wood-cutting accident in Markleeville. He was taken by CareFlight to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno where he underwent surgery and spent two months recovering before he was transferred to Children’s Hospital and Research Center in Oakland, Calif.

He returned to Minden in March 2009.

“It’s been more than three years since Joey was at Renown, so I don’t know what made them remember him, or what stood out in their minds,” said his mother, Robbi Jacobsen.

Kiemmy Boc, Children’s Miracle Network development specialist at Renown, said Joey was a natural choice.

“I am very, very excited to be working with the Jacobsens. We couldn’t be more blessed to have such a wonderful family,” Boc said.

The honor alternates between Renown and St. Rose Dominican Hospitals in Las Vegas, the only two facilities in Nevada affiliated with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

The organization’s mission is to generate funds and awareness programs for the benefit of children served by its associated hospitals, Boc said.

“Joey has really been through all the obstacles. He’s truly a miracle child,” Boc said.

Joey will be going to Washington, D.C., and Disney World in Orlando where he’ll have the opportunity to meet with other states’ “champion children.”

Past honorees have toured the White House and met the president.

“There’s no guarantee he’ll be able to meet President Obama. It depends on his schedule,” Boc said.

Joey was optimistic he would have a chance to meet the president.

The grandson of longtime Nevada legislator Lawrence Jacobsen, Joey was awed by the opportunity.

“My grandpa got to meet some presidents, too. No matter who is the president – whether you agree with him or not – he is the president,” Joey said. “Few people get the opportunity.”

The Jacobsens were notified last fall that Joey was being considered for the honor.

“One day, I came home from school and my parents said, ‘Joey, we have a surprise for you.’ They told me I had been chosen and I might have a chance to meet President Obama, and go to Disney World. I was speechless. I have never been to any of those places.”

The Jacobsens will travel with their son. The trips are paid for by the Children’s Miracle Network.

“He’ll be a spokesperson for a child who has been traumatically hurt,” Robbi Jacobsen said. “Joey’s story is kind of what the Children’s Miracle Network is all about, how the equipment they purchase saves lives. Joey is a living testament to the benefits of what that money’s used for.”

She said her son was honored to be chosen.

“He doesn’t want other kids to be sad with such changes in their lives. He talks about things he used to do, but he doesn’t do it with a broken heart. He is very matter-of-fact about it. He wants people to know it’s not that bad,” Jacobsen said.

Joey has been active at Pau-Wa-Lu, making the school honor roll and being invited to join the National Junior Honor Society.

With Douglas High girls basketball coach Werner Christen as his aide, Joey’s love of sports has not diminished. He helped out with the middle school basketball teams and is a sports trivia expert.

His said favorite subject is history with teacher Jason Kyle.

“I like school a lot,” said Joey, who will be 14 next month. “I’m like any kid. Some days I’m really happy to be here, some days I wish I could sleep in.”

Robbi Jacobsen said Joey has reached a plateau in his physical recovery.

“That doesn’t mean we’re closing the book,” she said. “Daily living is therapy for him; everything is therapy. The things he loves to do like hunting and fishing he still does.”

Joey said what keeps him motivated is the first thing he remembers hearing after he woke up after several weeks in a coma.

“Just never give up,” he said. “People told me that from the day I remember waking up. You’ve always got a chance to live.”


IHOP National Pancake Day Celebration, 7 a.m.-10 p.m., IHOP restaurants in Reno, Sparks, Carson City and Lake Tahoe. IHOP will be serving free pancakes, inviting patrons to make a donation to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital at Renown Health.


Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals