During the summer of 2017, Jay Jugoz opened the Riverside Sports Bar in Sacramento and he placed a languishing space to good use. It filled a big need in the Pocket neighborhood, offering a comfortable place to watch games, listen to live music, and have a really good meal while sipping from a quality beer list.

Jay grew up in the Pocket and Elk Grove areas, graduated from Sheldon High School in 2002, and served in the U.S. Air Force before he cut his teeth in the hospitality industry.

Simply filling a business need has never been enough for Jay.

He’s been committed to raising money to help kids. Jay organized St. Baldrick’s events for the last eight years, raising $30,000 to support St. Baldrick’s Foundation’s childhood cancer research. His events during the last two years at Riverside Sports Bar have combined for nearly $20,000.

Other projects have raised $16,000 for the Morton Golf Foundation for student athletes and $3,000 for the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Toy Project. Jay has consistently gone above and beyond in supporting local community groups.

Fighting childhood cancers was always his greatest passion.

As he shared in an interview this spring: “A lot of my family members have had cancer. My mom is fighting Stage IV cancer right now, another friend was just diagnosed. It has been hard for me and my family dealing with all of that. But even then, we can explain why adults get cancer, but we don’t understand why children get cancer. Some kids even have cancer at birth. I have a daughter; I cannot even imagine what other parents have gone through, how hard it must be.”

Tragically, cancer is fighting back against everything he’s done to fight it. At just 35 years old, Jay was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

He is fighting hard to beat this disease, both in his own body and as an advocate for children. But he also wants to make sure he can focus on the things that are most important to him during this fight.

Jay  has a short list of things that mean the most to him that many of his friends and neighbors in the community are trying to help make a reality: 1.) To take his daughter and family to Universal Studios – a trip long-planned, but delayed due to time and money; 2.) To host one more toy drive for Shriners Hospital for Children benefiting the kids in the Sutter oncology unit where Jay currently receives his chemotherapy; 3.) To live this time free of financial pressure; and 4.) To be remembered for his true spirit of giving and goodness.

I think everyone who knows Jay have always been touched by his generous spirit. I have – and knowing that Jay is younger than me and is also a father of a young child really hit me hard. In his time of need, I hope we can be equally generous.

His friends organized an online fundraiser to help facilitate time with his daughter and family. Donations can be made securely at this link: gofundme.com/f/jayswishlist.

There will also be a toy drive and fundraiser at Riverside Sports Bar on Sunday, Aug. 18 from 3-8 p.m. Guests are asked to bring new, unwrapped toys that will be delivered to Shriners Hospital for Children-Northern California and Sutter Hospital’s oncology unit near Christmastime. Cash donations will also be accepted at the event, and all tips will be donated to Jay’s wish list fund. Donations will be accepted at Riverside Sports Bar ahead of the event.

The Riverside Sports Bar is at 6401 Riverside Blvd., Sacramento.

Devin Lavelle is a co-founder of the Pocket-Greenhaven Community Association.