ROYAL OAK — A story that best exemplifies the impact Jeffrey David Wadha had on the people in his life comes from the night of a fundraiser his family held a year after his 2012 death.
A friend of Jeffrey and his brother, Mike Wadha, whom they hadn’t seen in 20 years, happened to be on a layover flight in Detroit that night on the way to Jordan.
Despite years of not seeing one another, the friend got a car, drove to the fundraiser in memory of Jeffrey, made a donation and then drove back to the airport in time for his flight.
“He was 100 percent unforgettable,” said Mike, describing his brother. “When you met him, he was a special person as soon as you met him.”
The fundraising effort brought in $32,172, enough for 78 iPads to be donated to Beaumont Children’s Hospital in memory of Jeffery, a Farmington Hills resident who died from lung cancer at age 38.
The donation was Jeffrey’s final wish, and it came to fruition June 20 when, during a brief ceremony inside the Children’s Miracle Network Garden, the hospital unveiled the iPads to the family and media.
The iPads will be given to children undergoing chemotherapy and other long-term treatments at the hospital.
“When they are in the hospital, having any kind of outlet where they can play and learn is amazing for them,” said Kathleen Grobbel, of Child Life Services at Beaumont Hospital.
The iPads contain apps for schoolwork and a video diary, allowing children to describe what they are enduring to help ease the anxiety of future patients and their families.
“This whole thing going on today was completely, 100 percent his idea,” Mike said. “All we did was make his wish come true because he died before he could.”
In an earlier fight with cancer in the mid-2000s, Jeffrey was inspired by the courage of the children undergoing chemotherapy treatment alongside him.
After being diagnosed again with cancer in the fall of 2012, and before dying only six weeks later, Jeffrey told his family he wanted children to have something to do during treatment.
“I think he would be completely humbled that we did it,” Mike said. “Today would have been good for him, and he’s probably crying tears of joy because we helped children. We helped out people who couldn’t help themselves.”
Lisa Stewart, manager for the Children’s Miracle Network, said she never met Jeffrey but learned what he was like throughout the fundraising process.
“He seemed extremely selfless, compassionate and just a caring man,” Stewart said. “And from the stories I hear, I am sorry I never got to meet him, but he just sounded incredible.”
Chip Away Everyday foundation, a nonprofit organized by Jeffrey’s family, raised $14,260.
The other half of the donation came from Super Fair Cellular Distributor, which donated $17,876 to the cause.
Jason Najor, the president and CEO of Super Fair, said he read about the family’s endeavor in a newspaper and felt it was right to get involved.
“Anything that has to do with kids and kids that are sick, it always reaches us,” Najor said. “We’ve had some people in our family who have been sick. With it being iPads, I have some contacts in the cellular business, and I reached out to them, and they helped make it happen.”