State of the Union: Heroes in the Balcony

In 1982, President Ronald Reagan began the tradition of “heroes in the balcony” to recognize acts of kindness, courage, and heroism at the State of the Union. Among the guests at last night’s address, were the Wade family of Jerseyville, Illinois. On Christmas Eve, Kimberly and Jon Wade lost their seven-year-old son Jonny to brain cancer. Jonny leaves behind his twin brother Jacky.

Jonny’s mission was to prevent any child from ever having cancer — a mission the Wade family hopes to continue. To share Jonny’s story and raise awareness of their cause, my office gave every member of the House a “Team Jonny” wristband to wear at last night’s State of the Union and show their support for the fight against pediatric cancer research. The amount of support was overwhelming.

Who it’s all about…

Jonny Wade

Before the address…

A letter describing Jonny’s mission and a wristband was delivered to each member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Jacky shows off his football skills for Congressman Bob Dold (IL-10) before the State of the Union.
Meeting House of Cards star Michael Kelly or “Doug Stamper.”

We estimate that more than 100 members of Congress joined us in support of pediatric cancer research by wearing the “Team Jonny” wristband to the State of the Union…

Grabbing a quick picture with Speaker Paul Ryan.
All in for Team Jonny with Leader McCarthy (Check out that Lincoln in the background).
A strong handshake with Congressman John Shimkus (IL-15).
Jacky checking out the Capitol Rotunda.
Hanging out with another Southwestern Illinois member and Team Jonny supporter, Congressman Mike Bost (IL- 12).
A chilly night on the speaker’s balcony.
Sharing Jonny’s story with KSDK Channel 5 out of St. Louis.
Congressmen Louie Gohmert (TX-01) and French Hill (AR-02) each wearing Team Jonny wristbands.
Congressman Reid Ribble (WI-08) and wife DeaNa show their support for Team Jonny and pediatric cancer research.
Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (MI-06), who has championed the 21st Century Cures Act in the House, showing strong support for pediatric cancer research.
Getting ready to take our seats for the president’s address.


Jacky, with a boost from Congressman Davis, watches as President Obama begins his last State of the Union address.

Oh, and then there was after…

Jonny was a remarkable young man, unwavering in his faith and mission to spare all children from cancer — a mission I hope to continue in Congress. Cancer remains the leading cause of death from disease among children, yet only four percent of the National Cancer Institute’s budget goes to pediatric cancer research. The House made significant strides for medical research last year by passing the 21st Century Cures Act and increasing funding for the National Institute of Health but more can be done.

President Obama said in his State of the Union address that we should make curing cancer our next ‘mission to the moon’ — I agree. I will continue to work with my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, to make that a reality.

Thoughts and prayers for the Wade family and all those battling cancer.