Tulsa man builds playhouses for local St. Jude patients

TULSA, Okla. — A Tulsa man is doing everything he can to raise money, raise awareness and support local families with children fighting cancer. It’s a cause he’s close to, because many years ago, he was one of those kids.

FOX23 morning anchor Michelle Linn first met Jay Cobb a few years ago. He’s working on a big project for a local St. Jude patient: building a playhouse.

“You just want to give everything to these kids and these families because everything was given to you,” said Jay.

Jay became a St. Jude patient at 9 years old. Back then, survival rates weren’t nearly as high.

Now he shares a bond with St. Jude patients and he hopes to bring them joy and a little normalcy.

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In 2020, he collected donations and gathered volunteers, and in 24 hours they built a treehouse for local St. Jude patient, Nate Phippen.

Last summer, he and his group were back at it, building a playhouse for St. Jude patient, Addison Usitalo.

Now they’re doing another marathon build for local St. Jude patient, Levi Kline.

“If you could just imagine a little kind of western-type town building, that’s what this looks like,” said Jay. “I’d sent the idea over to their family and he just loves it ... We’ve got some donations of old lanterns and wagon wheels, and we’ve got some special things coming that we hope will make it a really special thing for Levi.”

They’ll work from noon on Saturday until noon on Sunday, while another St. Jude hero will run a marathon, covering one or two miles every hour they’re at work building the playhouse.

Jay helps plan the St. Jude Run/Walk every fall, and works all year on challenges to raise money for St. Jude. Last year he got a tattoo honoring St. Jude.

Another recent challenge of his was letting Addison spin him around in her net swing.

“We made her a net swing, and she likes to take it and twist people and spin them around in her net swing,” said Jay. “I thought that would be easy. I didn’t realize as you get older how much the spinning can affect your balance, so that was a little harder than I thought it was going to be.”

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When he met his $2 thousand goal, he completed a pretty disgusting challenge.

“I just experienced eating, on purpose, bugs for the first time and stuff ... I had a cricket and a grasshopper. It was an experience,” Jay said.

He said he won’t stop doing everything he can to help local families.

“If I have to eat a bug, or cream pies to the face, or kiss pigs or whatever it is, as long as that brings some joy to their face, I’ll do it,” said Jay. “Just doing whatever we can to bring awareness to St. Jude. It’s not just something that’s in Memphis, it’s here locally. These kids are right here, and these kids are the ones that are fighting the hardest to have a normal childhood.”

You can help local St. Jude patients by buying a ticket for the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway.

The home is finished and open for weekend tours. Call 1-800-853-1470 or go online to buy your $100 ticket now.

If you reserve a ticket before May 27, you’ll also be entered to win a 2022 Jeep Wrangler Sport, courtesy of Bob Moore Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Tulsa.