Jay 11-Year-Old Makes Special Memories With Terminally Ill Father

Wednesday, June 6th 2012, 3:50 pm
By: News On 6

Students from Jay got an out of this world experience.

The kids got the rare chance to attend NASA's space camp last week.

For one family, the camp tightened a father-daughter bond.

Shooting for the moon is one thing Bo Jackson and his wife Karen have always encouraged their daughters to do.

Emma Jackson, 11, took them literally when she rocketed off to space camp in Hunstville, Alabama.

"Inco is where you get to do the countdown to blast off. Commander is where you get to fly into space and fly back down," Emma said.

The soon-to-be sixth grader and her class spent the week learning all things NASA. Bo was thrilled. For 15 years, he worked at a company in Grove that built hardware for NASA.

"It is a once in a lifetime deal for her," Bo said." We thought it would be pretty neat just to see her go down and see some of the stuff.

The tremendous opportunity for Emma took a tragic turn when the family learned Bo was sick.

"He was trembling, sweaty and really pale," Karen said.

Last August, Bo spent weeks in the local hospital, at MD Anderson in Houston, and finally, The Mayo Clinic.

"The doctor came in and said, ‘I'm sorry -- your husband is full of tumors,'" Karen said. "He said, ‘I don't know what can be done.'"

Bo is terminally ill with colon cancer.

"At first it was a pretty hard hit," Bo said. "Pretty rough. Now I've turned it over to God and let him do what he does."

Bo retired and started chemotherapy. His girls became his entire universe.

"I'm pushing them pretty hard," Bo said. "Probably harder than most right now."

He says more than anything, he wants them to be happy and healthy. And, of course, he wants them to reach for the stars.

"I'm a daddy's girl," Emma said. "He's just very special to me because he's my dad."

Emma said she wants to have a hands-on career in science when she grows up.

"I'll always be there for them," Bo said. "No matter what happens."