The Story Behind The Jean Accius II Caregiver Award:
The Caregiver Cup Award was established in 2016 by Jack’s Caregiver Coalition and ever since it has been awarded annually to the caregiver in our community who most consistently demonstrates our core values of compassion, courage, and resilience.
It was decided that 2022 would be a year of evolution for the award. And that the award would be named after someone who has made extraordinary contributions to our coalition.
We chose Jean Accius II.
Ever since Jean tripped over us on Twitter in 2016 he has been a tireless advocate for our mission. Not only by bringing us opportunities, but also for being patient with us as we struggled with those opportunities. Like when we organized a Twitter chat on the topic of male caregivers that we hoped to engage dozens of thought leaders nationally on. The result was me, him, and maybe 1 or 2 other people. It was awful and hilarious. What I believe Jean understood at the time is something I didn’t. That even in those moments we really did succeed - if you were to measure our success by our effort. The headwind we were unwittingly facing was one of a society that takes caregivers completely for granted. And talking about guys as caregivers, at least at that time, was just weird.
Jean joined our board in 2020 in the middle of a pandemic. He asks us important questions and provides us relentless encouragement. Let the award wear his name forever.
Another evolution of the award is to add to the list of criteria that the winner also be the active caregiver who has made the most important contributions to our community.
In that sense, the award recognizes a “master” caregiver. Someone who is caring not only effectively for their loved one, but someone who is also caring for the loved ones of many others. Often people they’ve never even met.
They accomplish this through their support of our community of caregivers. They show up in ways large and small that eases not only their own journey, but they also smooth out the harshest edges of the relentless uncertainty and isolation that other caregivers experience. They make other caregivers feel seen and heard. They help the helpers.
Why We Chose Dan Cramer:
Put simply, Dan has achieved mastery in caregiving.
The reasons start early in his caregiving journey. He reached out for help immediately after Cassie’s diagnosis. Unfortunately, that isn't the way most guys kick off their caregiving experience.
Not long after that he and Cassie both started a beautiful blog, Meaning & Stuff, that they write together. They were quick to find resources for Cassie. And there were resources for Dan too. But what they struggled to find was resources for their relationship. Or as they put it:
A Stage IV diagnosis, devastating. As we began to search for meaning after Cassie’s diagnosis, we craved more resources for us as a couple. How do we process this? How might our roles change? How can we best support each other and maintain a strong marriage through this devastation? We’re certainly not experts and don’t claim to have the answers, but we hope that by sharing our thoughts other couples in similar circumstances may gain something. - Cassie & Dan Cramer
Dan was quick to become a volunteer and even quicker to win our volunteer of year award in 2019. I also remember early in our relationship he told me a truth I really needed to hear as our leader. He delivered that truth to me carefully, and because of that I was able to full receive it.
When I scroll through our database of caregivers, the cell with “Who is their Coach”….I see Dan’s name over and over and over again. And it isn’t just that he shows up for those caregivers over and over again, he also knows when he can’t. He doesn’t always say yes. To me that’s the hard truth about what mastery in caregiving looks like. Sometimes saying no to wonderful opportunities. I suspect he wants to say yes all the time but he understands that’s a recipe for burnout and mediocrity.
On #GiveToTheJacksDay he didn’t just donate to the campaign, he joined the leadership team and coached our staff on how to run the campaign. And he asked for a lot of advice from his lovely bride Cassie who has a lot of fundraising experience. And then on the big day he showed up with sandwiches for our staff. And proceeded to show us what effective fundraising looks like. Here's an interview with him about the campaign.
There are a lot of big things he’s done, but there are so many little ones too. Like the unsolicited notes of encouragement he sends our staff. He understands that our staff are our lifeblood. That our staff are who wake up and carry this mission forward every single day.
Here’s one recent example of that:
Congrats on last night! Wow that’s tremendous and what a validation of the organizations work and value. Kudos to you both which I’ll know you will defer and give credit to others. But here’s the thing - if everything had gone to shit you would have taken the blame on yourselves so when things go well you get corresponding credit! Congrats! - Dan Cramer
Thank you Dan for being who you are. Most importantly you are an incredible gift to Cassie. Thank you for also being an incredible gift to so many caregivers in our community. Congratulations!
Author: Kyle Woody
Kyle is notorious for giving up on stuff. His kindle is riddled with half read books and his Netflix que is brimming with half watched shows. In 2018 he also called it quits on an 18-year career in construction. But he’ll never give up on Jack’s Caregiver Coalition. One of the three proud founders of the coalition, he has served as executive director since day one. You’ll often find him swearing at his laptop or feeling outnumbered by all the ladies in his group exercise classes. He is blessed daily by his beautiful bride, their five children, and their two fur babies Janet and Todd.