Blue ribbons are popping up across the Lake Forest area in memory of 12-year-old Jessica Joy Rees, who .
Rees, a Rancho Santa Margarita resident, swam for the Mission Viejo Nadadores, and her father is a pastor at in Lake Forest.
After an MRI revealed an inoperable brain tumor March 3, 2011, "Jessie" Rees began encouraging other kids with cancer. She inspired a foundation called NEGU—"Never Ever Give Up" and shared her experience though a Facebook page and a blog.
Now her supporters are honoring her memory by tying blue ribbons along south Orange County thoroughfares.
So far, community members, including more than 50 Nadadore swimmers, have spent hours tying the blue ribbons on everything from stop signs to trees.
At the intersection of Los Alisos Boulevard and Marguerite Parkway, one large tree has ribbons tied to virtually each branch; nearby, a bridge over the 241 tollway is marked with four blue letters—N-E-G-U.
The aim of the effort is to make the Rees family "feel loved and supported by the community," said volunteer Cathy Sujishi, who helped put up ribbons on Sunday.
Sujishi is also organizing supporters to line the roads leading to Saddleback Church with balloons on the day of services for Rees.
Volunteers are welcome to meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday at Grace Community Church at 26052 Trabuco Rd. in Lake Forest to blow up balloons, transport them to the church and position them at the entrances to Saddleback Church, where the services will be held.
(According to volunteer Lisa Lilienthal, the community undertook a similar project when Lake Forest student Thomas Johnson died in June 2010, also from cancer.)
In addition to community members and the church, which has offered up the space for the balloon preparation, local businesses are also helping out, Sujishi said.
Ralphs is donating balloons and Party City is donating the helium to inflate them, as well as discounting balloons and ribbons.
[Editor's note: According to organizers, the volunteers who are putting up ribbons and balloons are also planning to remove them.]
Services are scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at the worship center at Saddleback Church. Attire is "bright and casual ... just like Jessie!" say her parents. The public is welcome to attend.
In lieu of flowers, charitable donations can be made online to The NEGU Foundation at negu.org/donate or mailed to The NEGU Foundation, 29801 Santa Margarita Pkwy., Suite 100, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688.