BILLINGS — It was a surprise for the kids in the Jaynes family when they drove to Billings from their home in Dodson on the Hi-Line on Saturday expecting to go to the trampoline park, but instead were gifted a camper thanks to troopers with Montana Hope Project.
"Yeah, this is awesome," said 17-year-old Mike Jaynes upon seeing his new camper.
Mike had a tougher time during the COVID pandemic than most people. He was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 2019 in the form of a tumor that started in his hand and spread to his armpit.
Under threat of having his hand amputated, Mike had surgery at a hospital in Spokane, Washington, to remove the tumor, followed by 42 weeks of chemo and five weeks of radiation.
Mike doesn't have full mobility in his hand, but he's well enough now to have played on the Dodson High School basketball team for the past two years.
"It doesn't work all of the way. He can't bend right here or this, but to have this (hand) right here is a huge blessing," said Cathy Jaynes, Mike's mother.
The family took 42 trips driving 212 miles each way from their home in Dodson to Billings for treatments in 2020. But since July 2020, Mike has been cancer-free.
"It's awesome. It's fun just to go around and do stuff. Just to live a normal life," Mike said.
"We just pray every time that we come up here that we're going to get another good prognosis out of it and keep trucking along. And he got back his nice 'goldy locks,'" Cathy said.
Troopers with Montana Hope Project caught wind of Mike's recovery and wanted to do something special, so they found the avid outdoorsman a camper that he could call his own.
"It's going to be fun just to go camping. I love outdoors. I love nature and having a camper is going to be awesome. Then whenever mom gets mad at me, I can go to my camper," Mike said with a laugh.
The first camping trip will be to Mike's grandfather's house in Zortman. And don't worry, the kids still got to jump at the Billings trampoline park after they checked out the new camper.
Billings Coordinator for Montana Hope Project, Dave Evans, said this is the second wish granted by the organization this year, with plenty more to come before the year is out.
"Can't thank you guys enough. We can give so much praise to that and hopefully more people will step up and help donate to the organization. Because it's definitely a one in a million organization," Cathy said.
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