24-hour rowing challenge in SoCal raises more than $40,000 for pediatric cancer patients

CHINO, Calif. (KABC) -- A 24-hour rowing challenge held in Chino raised a lot of money for a good cause: helping pediatric cancer patients.

The cause is important to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Aaron Scheller whose daughter was diagnosed with cancer at 2 1/2-years-old and has now been cancer free for three years.

"When you're sitting there and you're dealing with cancer, and you're fighting cancer, and you're sitting there, your daughter is in the bed and you're sitting on the side you can't do anything," said Scheller. "So what the 'joy jar' does is it comes and brings things into your room that you're able to enjoy life while going through cancer."

The "joy jars" are filled with toys and games for the child fighting cancer. The idea came from the Jessie Rees Foundation. Jessie died from cancer as a child and had a vision to help families battling the disease.

"To me, as Jessie's daddy, to see these people sacrifice their bodies, raise money to help more kids, never ever give up, which is the mission of our foundation, it's very, very special and I'm so honored to be participating in it," said Erik Rees, the CEO of the Jessie Rees Foundation.

Five teams rowed for 24 hours straight. The teams came from the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, West Covina Fire Department, local CrossFit teams and more. Altogether they raised more than $40,000 for pediatric cancer patients.

"No greater cause than helping kids with cancer," said LASD Sgt. Kamal Ahmad. "And helping support that... you know that just motivates me to come out here with my team and raise money for them."

"'NEGU' stands for never ever give up, which was our motto. And my daughter is healthy today and we hope that continues, but not every child gets that," said Scheller. "And so for us it's an opportunity to give back a little bit of life in the hospital that they might not normally have."

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