Jake Steel's "boisterous" positive attitude didn't waver, even on one of the worst days of his life.
What You Need To Know
- Jake Steel was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia
- Family members say he remained positive
- Former Gator, NFL QB Tim Tebow reached out to Steel
According to the American Cancer Society, less than half of one percent of Americans get acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Steel, 23, was in that less than half of 1 percent.
He was a positive guy: His younger brother, Luke, described him as "goofy, he’s just boisterous and in a great mood all the time.”
Then, in June 2018, Steel was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, according to his mother, Liza. The cancer had attacked all of his bones.
After a successful treatment, he went into remission later in the year, but side effects left him paralyzed.
“The whole time that he hardly ever got depressed or angry about it, because he was always ready to fight it," Liza Steel said.
That’s who Jake was: a fighter. In May 2019, his leukemia came back and that time around, treatments weren’t as successful.
“He would go into remission and then it would come back and we would have to try something else,” Steel said.
The Steels said what they'll remember most is the time spent as a family, especially on the weekends.
“We watch nothing but college football," dad Jason Steel said. Younger sister Karli added, “My mom’s a bigger Gator fan than my dad is, and he went to UF.”
They especially loved watching former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow.
“We just had a real respect for him and how he lived out his faith,” Liza Steel said.
When Jake's condition didn’t improve, the family brought him home for hospice care under the watchful eye of Sara Shufelt.
“As I was working with Jake and had him for a couple of weeks, I just started to think about what can I do for him to make his day,” Shufelt said.
With the help of HPH Hospice, Shufelt made contact with the quarterback Jake admired. Tebow couldn’t travel due to the coronavirus pandemic but sent a message to Jake after hearing his story.
“Hey Jake, this is Tim Tebow. I just wanted to say, man, what an inspiration you’ve been," the former Gator said.
Jake "really, really liked it and (it was) totally unexpected. We hadn’t told Jake anything about it," Liza Steel said.
Jake died two days after watching Tebow’s video.
“We were all around the bed, and each one of us said I love you, just rest," Jason Steel said.