Matthew Jacko, Sharing Comfort

Story and photo by Debbi Casini Klein | Audio edited by Louis D’Aria

Matthew Jacko was your typical 7-year-old, going to school, playing baseball, living life, until one day about a year and half ago, he and his family received the devastating news: Matthew had an inoperable brain tumor.

Through chemotherapy, myriad hospital visits and now hospice care, Matthew has sought the comfort of a big stuffed monkey that was kindly given to him by Lisa Donnelly, an Avon representative who was selling them as a fundraiser.

Matthew Jacko with his sister Jocelyn

Matthew Jacko with his sister Jocelyn

Matthew wanted to spread the joy he received having that cuddly monkey, so he told his family he wanted to make sure every child at Children’s Hospital could have one too.

With the help of Lisa, his family and many donors, Matthew has now raised more than $22,000 to help distribute over 1,100 monkeys to Children’s Hospital, Children’s Institute and Toys for Tots.

While Matthew’s parents and sister struggle with not knowing how much time he has left, they are comforted by the joy he has given so many children with his monkeys.

“I would like to believe that Matthew is just an inspiration to a lot of people,“ said Brian Jacko, Matthew’s dad. “They see this little boy that’s sick and is able to reach down deep in his heart and bring these caring thoughts.”

Lisa Donnelly agreed.

“Matthew is an angel on earth,” she said. “He is sweet, he is loving, he’s beautiful, funny, and kind. His mission in life is to make sure other people are happy. He doesn’t think about himself, his needs, or his wants. He just wants to see smiles on faces.”

For donations to Matthew’s Monkeys, go to