$10,000 Matching Grant Set for STJ Cancer Fund

Cary and Jack Hock. (Photo by Sonya Melescu)
Cary and Jack Hock. (Photo by Sonya Melescu)

A frequent visitor to St. John is honoring the memory of his wife by offering to match as much as $10,000 in donations to the St. John Cancer Fund.

Jack Hock’s wife, Cary, died from pancreatic cancer in July. She was diagnosed with the disease 10 days after their last visit to St. John in March. The diagnosis was shocking, particularly because Cary looked so heathy and had run the Lind Point Trail on St. John during their visit.

When people asked about sending flowers, Jack said he’d rather the money go to help others who are battling cancer and directed them to donate to the St. John Cancer Fund. So far, more than $33,000 has been raised in Cary’s name.

“My goal now is to raise another $20,000, and that’s why I’m offering a $10,000 match,” said Jack. “After watching my wife suffering through chemo treatments and the pain associated with pancreatic cancer, I never want to see another person suffer from cancer. If the $10,000 can help just one person, it is well worth it to me; it’s what Cary would have wanted me to do.”

Jack and Cary fell in love with St. John and were married in 2009 at Trunk Bay by “the barefoot minister,” Anne Marie Porter. “We wore blue jeans and T-shirts. On St. John we lived a very relaxed way of life,” said Jack. “It was one place we could go and forget about the stress.”

Throughout the years, the Hocks returned to the island many times. They often stayed at Caneel Bay Resort, where they built lasting relationships with staff members. After Hurricane Irma devastated the island, they shipped down generators to people they had gotten to know, but their generosity extended as well to those they didn’t know.

“On Christmas Eve, Cary handed out $100 bills in Cruz Bay Park to mothers who gathered with their children to see Santa,” said St. John business owner Sybille Sorrentino. “She was always so generous.”

The Hocks worked together at Aring Equipment Company, a business that sells large construction equipment in Wisconsin, where Jack still lives.

“We’ve been very successful, and Cary liked to share it,” Jack said.

Jack said he had misgivings about returning to St. John while his loss feels so fresh, but he now plans to come with a friend (who also recently lost a spouse) in January to participate in Light Up the Night, the St. John Cancer Fund’s annual fundraiser.

“They say time heals, but really, it’s what you do with the time that heals,” said Jack. He’s found comfort in a book titled “Living When a Loved One Has Died” by Earl A. Grollman, and regularly hands out copies to others who have experienced loss.

“We did learn at one of the Mayo Clinic educational seminars that 40 percent of people will get some form of cancer in their lifetime, and 20 percent of people die from cancer,” said Jack. “This is a frightening disease that I hope someday they find a cure for.”

Donations to the St. John Cancer Fund can be written to The Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, with the check’s memo line written to: St. John Cancer Fund.

Checks can be mailed to: The Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, P.O. Box 11790, St. Thomas, V.I. 00801-4790.