Massachusetts Special-Ed teacher Kerry Bremer and her family took in Jake Manning, who has Down syndrome, when his mother died this month after a 4-year battle with breast cancer.
Teacher to raise former student with Down syndrome after his mom dies of cancer
A Massachusetts teacher and her family are making certain that one of her former students has a loving home after his mom died from breast cancer earlier this month. Jake Manning, 14, who has Down syndrome, met Kerry Bremer four years ago when she was his special education teacher. Bremer said that Jake was a "dynamic" boy and that she was instantly drawn to him. Bremer also knew that his mom, Jean Manning, was sick with terminal cancer that had metastasised in her brain. Manning was a single mom and her family was unable to take Jake in. So Bremer talked with her husband and children, and they decided to help.
“Her biggest fear was what would happen to Jake after she passed.”
Four years ago, special education teacher Kerry Bremer and Jean Manning, a terminally ill single mom of a son with Down syndrome, had a heart-wrenching conversation. — reported Today
At the time, Bremer had only known Manning and her son Jake for a few months. They had just moved to Massachusetts, from Florida, and Jake was one of Bremer’s students at the CASE Collaborative School.
“I said, ‘I may be overstepping here and forgive me if I am, but my family and I would like to offer guardianship for Jake if you need a backup plan,’” Bremer, 52, told TODAY Parents.
Manning’s eyes filled with tears as she nodded her head yes. Though she had supportive relatives, no one was in a position to care for Jake. “She said, I’ll sleep better tonight than I have in a very long time,’” Bremer recalled. "Her biggest fear was what would happen to Jake after she passed."
For Bremer, it was a no-brainer. “I fell in love with Jake instantly,” Bremer revealed. "I knew he would a need a home and there was no way I wouldn’t open ours to him."
On Wednesday, 13 November, after Jean put Jake on the bus, she went back into the house for a nap (as chemotherapy treatment saps all energy out of the body) only this time she just didn’t wake up.
“He has done more for us than we could ever do for him.”
On November 13, the day Manning passed away, 14-year-old Jake moved into the Bremer’s home, which was already filled with his toys and clothes from countless sleepovers.
Bremer, her husband, Dave, and Manning worked together to make sure the transition would be as seamless as possible.
“We would take Jake to appointments together and celebrate holidays together. Jean called him ‘our son,’” Bremer revealed. “That must have been so hard for her, to be planning for her death, but she did a beautiful job. She was so courageous.”
Jake calls Dave “Dave the Dad” and considers the Bremer kids— Kristen, 21, Jonathan, 19, and Kaitlyn, 16 — to be his siblings.
“It feels weird to be getting this attention,” Bremer said. “We never thought twice about it. I loved this kid so much. He has done more for us than we could ever do for him."
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help support Bremmer and her newly-extended family.
GoFundMe: Memorial for Jeanie to Benefit Jake
Kerry Bremer came to Jeanie as an angel on earth and stepped up and offered to bring Jake into her family of 5 should Jeanie's cancer win. Jeanie and The Bremer family worked together to slowly help Jake become familiar with what could, and did, turn out to be his new family. As promised, Kerry immediately collected Jake and is now in the process of helping him cope with what will be his new life. Jeanie had lots of love to give but materialistically very little. This is going to be a long road for all involved. No amount is too small. Please consider helping. Kerry & Dave Bremer will have full discretion as to how best to use these funds to best support Jake