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Jalon Finds the Beat

Jalon plays the drums

“ He just keeps going and keeps playing. ”

- Andrea, Jalon's mom

It’s no surprise that three-year-old Jalon, who was diagnosed with a tumor, wished to have his very own drum set.

When Jalon was just 18 months old, his uncle would swoop him up into his lap and teach him several rhythms on the drums.

“It started as just a thing between the two of them,” said Jalon’s mother, Andrea. “It was just to have their time together.”

Pretty soon Jalon developed a knack for the instrument. His talent surprised everyone in his family and eventually inspired a young concert drummer.

“We went to a concert at someone’s home and he fell in love with the drummer and watched him the entire night,” Andrea said. “The drummer picked him up and put him on his lap and let him drum with him. They were surprised at how well he played the beat. The drummer ended up giving him his very own signed sticks.”

In fact, it wasn’t until Jalon’s drumming and playful personality came to a halt that his family realized something may be wrong. He became very sluggish, sleepy and contracted a cold that simply would not go away.

Jalon’s diagnosis was first believed to be a sinus infection. But a CAT scan of his brain confirmed that he had a mass in his brain that spread into the front of his face. What the family originally thought would be a short process turned into a 10-day hospital stay, complete with tests, spinal taps and bone marrow taps.

After the family’s case manager at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt referred Jalon to Make-A-Wish, two wish-granting volunteers visited the family. Jalon’s talent and enthusiasm for playing the drums was immediately clear.

“We were planning on getting him his own drum set for Christmas, but Make-A-Wish came around and did that for us,” Andrea said. “The volunteers saw him in action and suggested the set. It couldn’t have worked out better.”

With his new kit, Jalon has mastered a few beats and plays them on repeat every day.

“He loves them so much, he even sleeps with his sticks,” Andrea said. “We’ve even found him asleep against the bass of the drum kit.”

“Never once has he cried or complained,” Andrea said. “He just kept going and he just keeps playing.”

Since his first chemotherapy treatment in May, Jalon’s mass has shrunk incredibly. He has another scan coming up in the fall and everyone is hopeful that it has shrunk even more, if not gone away almost entirely.

“Throughout this entire journey, everyone has said they’re amazed at how strong we are. We credit it to our belief in God,” Andrea said. “After going through the process of trying to have a child, and then adopting Jalon and being sent through this next journey, we just have to believe that God knew what he was doing.” 

  • Jalon's drum solo

  • Jalon plays the drums

  • Jalon and his parents

  • Jalon playing the drums

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