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Heaven Has A New Angel

by Laural Porter

Posted on August 2, 2008 at 12:59 AM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:32 PM

His name is J-R Mcdowell and while he was here with us, he taught those lucky enough to know him much about grace.

I only spent a few hours with J-R earlier this summer when we met him at the Providence Center for Medically Fragile Children.

We were there to do a story on his many accomplishments in his young life.

But, in just those few hours, I, too was touched by J-R's gentle spirit, compassion, sense of humor, humility and faith.

J-R suffered from a nerve crippling disease, neurofibromatosis. Just getting up in the morning was a daunting challenge.Yet, J-R went to Franklin High School determined to graduate with his class.

In the final months, he couldn't attend class, but he continued his classes with a tutor at the hospital.

He was too ill to attend graduation, so the ceremony came to him.

The school awarded him its coveted "Franklin award" for inspiring classmates and teachers.

In addition, J-R became sort of the informal spokesman for all the kids at the Center for Medically Fragile Children.

None of them can speak, but J-R spoke with them.

And they communciated with J-R. He cared for each and every one of them.

At the celebration of J-R's life, parents of some of those children spoke of how J-R helped them endure their own hardships.

J-R loved video games...

He was a master video game player... but the disease robbed his hands of their dexterity and he had to have others use the video controls.

It was J-R's dream to design his own video game based on Bible stories.

A Microsoft game designer had planned to come visit J-R to hear his ideas and show him how games are designed, but J-R never got the chance.

He died just days before the visit. J-R passed away on July 28,2008 at just 19-years old.

J-R touched so many, even those he never met.

The Microsoft game designer, Matt, had seen our Newschannel 8 report on J-R.

After J-R's death he wrote me this email about J-R:

"He is so inspiring to me on so many levels and such an encouragement in the plain old business of daily living. I was really excited about meeting him simply because his is the kind of creative energy that is so rewarding to engage with. I've appreciated your expressions of gratitude but I cannot possibly convey how much I feel that this was as much an opportunity for me as a favor for someone else.

My thoughts are with you both, with J-R's mom and family, and with all the kids that J-R inspired so much and who must really be missing him terribly."

J-R is missed terribly.

However, all of us who knew him, even briefly, are so grateful for the gift of having known him.

J-R has touched us and we are changed.

If you missed the story we did on J-R, you can watch it on under News video/special reports.