Jake's mother was dying of cancer, so Kerry and her husband and kids started preparing a place for him in their family to ease the transition when the inevitable happened.
Just one verse each day.
One person can change our lives forever. Jake, who is 14 years old and has Down syndrome, knows this well: When his mother died of breast cancer, his teacher took him into her home.
This is their story. When Jean Manning, Jake’s mother, discovered that she had cancer she moved to Massachusetts with her son Jake in search of treatment. She enrolled her teenage son in the school where Kerry Bremer was a teacher of special needs children.
Kerry recalls that when she met Jake, she knew that he was, indeed, a very special boy. She told CNN that in the classroom he was “full of energy,” often jumping around the room and pretending to be Batman. “And then the next minute he would be the sweetest little guy, who was looking you directly in the eyes and telling you he loved you,” she told CNN reporter David Williams.
The teacher and Jake’s mother became friends. One day Jean told her new friend about her illness. Kerry already had three children, but knowing that Jean had no immediate family that could take Jake in, she couldn’t bear the thought of him being left alone if his mother died.
In a 2019 interview with Good Morning America (GMA), Bremer explains what she did next: “I approached his mom and said, ‘If you need a backup plan for Jake, then our family is happy to make him part of our family.’ She told me, ‘I’ll sleep better tonight than I’ve slept in a long time.'”
The teacher wanted the teen to feel at home in her house. She and her husband set up a room and furnished it especially for Jake. “We would take Jake to appointments together and celebrate holidays together. Jean called him ‘our son,” Kerry recalls in an interview with Today. “That must have been so hard for her, to be planning for her death, but she did a beautiful job. She was so courageous.”
“She called him ‘our son,’ ‘our boy,'” she told GMA.
The Bremers spent many weekends with the teenager and his mother, and became very close. “I’m terribly sad that Jake … doesn’t have his mom to be with him for the rest of his life,” Kerry told CNN. “But I’m very, very grateful that she trusted us to take him and be with him and share our home with him,” Kerry says.
“My mom went to heaven”
Jean’s death on November 13, 2019, came as a shock to the teenager, but now he understands that his mother is in heaven with God and his aunts. “My mom went to heaven,” he says, in an interview with TV station WCVB. “Queen angel mom,” he calls her. “She’s always in my heart.”
The story of this teacher and her fourth child touched Internet users all over the world. While they haven’t been in the news recently, public posts on Kerry Bremer’s Facebook profile over the past three years show a happy Jake surrounded by his second family, getting his picture taken with Santa, and doing new things like getting his first job. Bremer told Boston 25 News, “He needed us and quite honestly obviously we needed him because he’s fit in so perfect here.”
May God bless them and inspire more families to open their doors and hearts to children in need of a home, with or without special needs.