Student battling leukemia honored as the heart and ‘Buzz’ of Yulee High School

Jake Berglund & family made decision to end chemotherapy threatments

YULEE, Fla. – A Yulee High School freshman who has been battling leukemia received an outpouring of love and support Friday.

Jake Berglund and his family made the decision to end chemotherapy treatments this week after tests revealed the aggressive disease was multiplying in his bone marrow and blood. Jake returned home on Wednesday and is now in hospice care.

When leaving the hospital, he got a call from President Donald Trump and a FaceTime call from Tim Tebow.

Last year, Jake’s mother told News4Jax, “We went from going to the hospital, thinking we will be home in a couple of hours to our lives being completed turned upside down.”

On Friday morning, Jake and his family sat outside their Yulee home as hundreds of cars and community members came out to be part of a parade to show their love and support. About 400 people were in attendance.

The Nassau County Sheriff’s Office and Fire Department escorted hundreds of cars to Jake’s home, so his classmates and those in the community got their chance to bring joy to Jake.

“Seeing the impact that a 15-year-old has had not just in this area, but just -- it’s far reaching,” said Natasha Drake, Yulee High School’s principal.

Drake described Jake as a remarkable young man who has lived his life to the fullest.

Jake sat with his family watching car after car pass by with signs, messages and people cheering for him.

“Jake wanted to call me and FaceTime me to let me know that he was choosing to come home under hospice care,” Drake said.

Jake was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago as an eighth grader. He missed class because of chemotherapy treatments, but he went into remission, which allowed him to begin his freshman year. Drake said about a week before spring break, Jake had a flare-up but kept pushing.

“I asked what was going on and he said, ‘Oh, I had my treatment,’ and I said, ‘Why don’t you stay home? Normally you just stay home and you come back to the next day?’ (He said) ‘I got to be here to take care of business,’ and just walked on to go to class. That’s just Jake.”

Jake is the freshman class president and the high school mascot, Buzz. His classmates and the community made signs, some saying “Keep on buzzin” and “I love my Buzz Buzz.”

“He has been our Buzz for four years,” said Candy Ritsma, Yulee High School’s cheer coach. “He is the heart of Yulee High School.”

Last June, Jake was part of Dream Day, which is a celebration for children who have potentially life-threatening illnesses, allowing kids to just enjoy being kids.

“I don’t look at it as, oh, why me, that I was diagnosed with cancer,” Jake said at the time. “I look at it as an opportunity as, why not me? When you have a horrible disease such as leukemia, it makes me proud at the end of the day know that I can leave treatment and know I gave it my all.”

“We wanted to be able to honor Jake and show him and his family what he means to our community,” Ritsma said.

Now that Jake is home, family and the community are showing their support. His family posted on Facebook, saying: “I know Jake’s sign said losing is not an option, but he isn’t losing. He will be watching over our family and waiting, cheering us on from the other side.”

Yulee High School said that its mascot, Buzz, has earned a new last name. A jersey is being made with the number 20 for the year 2020, and Buzz will always be known as Buzz Berglund, or B.B., in memory of Jake.

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