Fisher’s hosts Oct. 1 Saints’ brunch w. ESPY winner JJ Robertson
Proceeds go to remarkable child’s It Takes Lives to Save Lives charity
What was the highlight of ESPN Jimmy V. Award winner Jarrius Robertson’s early October vacation in Orange Beach? Playing in the sand? Riding jet skis around Cotton Bayou? The Dolphin boat tour?
“All of that, but most memorable will be the open arms that we’ve been embraced with by the people of Alabama,’’ said Jordy Robinson, the father of JJ, the New Orleans child diagnosed with biliary atresia, a life-threatening disease of the liver and bile ducts, just weeks into his life. “This has been such a great experience for all of us. We have not been getting much sleep, but it’s incredible how this community has made us feel so accepted.’’
The Robertson family was vacationing in Orange Beach at the invitation of Johnny Fisher, owner of Fisher’s Restaurant, who hosted a fundraising breakfast for JJ’s foundation.
Robertson recently won The Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the ESPYs, and Fisher hosted a Sunday brunch and viewing party for the Saints’ Sunday morning game in London to benefit It Takes Lives to Save Lives (ittakeslivestosavelives.com), the charity established by Robertson’s family to help other children suffering from biliary atresia.
“It was an Alabama kid whosed donated organ saved JJ’s life,’’ Jordy Robertson said. “So we already feel very connected to the state. We are hoping to meet the family of the donor this April, which will be the one year anniversary.’’
JJ was on the list for a life-saving transplant and eventually got a new liver thanks to an Alabama donor soon after his first birthday. But there were more complications. JJ caught pneumonia. His lungs collapsed. He was placed on a respirator. Doctors at Children’s Hospital of New Orleans eventually had to induce a coma – and JJ remained unconscious for close to a year.
“Five, six times we were told he wasn’t going to make it,” JJ’s mom, Patricia Hoyal recalled. “Then they told us for the seventh time. He was still on the respirator.”
“We didn’t want to see him suffer anymore,” Jordy said. “So we finally signed the papers to let him go … papers to remove the respirator and let him go.”
The respirator was taken away. But JJ was not ready to stop fighting. He started to breathe on his own. Doctors couldn’t really offer much of an explanation.
“It was a miracle – nothing but God,” said his mom.
Pictured: Esther McKeeman, Johnny Fisher, JJ Robertson and Jordy Robertson.