Today we learned that Jake Villanueva, the 23-year-old who posted about his terminal cancer on Reddit last summer and was rewarded with $30,000 in donations to travel around the world, has died. Back in June 2012, 23-year-old Jake Villanueva of Vancouver took to Reddit to do an AMA (ask me anything) on his condition and what it was like to be terminally ill.
Jake wrote on Reddit:
“I’m new here, so if I’m not doing this right or something – just tell me!”
Jake explained his condition:
“I have been on chemo, which is no longer working and the cancer continues to spread. Unlike so many other cancers, this one doesn’t have a survival rate. It is extremely likely that I will not see my 24th birthday.”
Jake expected people to ask questions about his disease (stage 4 renal cell carcinoma) or share their own experiences. What he did not expect was an overwhelming outpouring of support from Redditors (which of course, is not unusual behavior for Redditors). After his post was upvoted to the front page of Reddit, Lindsay Minar of Portland, Oregon, started a fund to help Villanueva fulfill his dream of taking one last trip – around the world. While Jake slept, more than 1,200 people had donated a total of $30,000, more than enough to make his around-the-world trip a reality. In fact, the money came in so fast that at one point, Jake asked Redditors to stop. People also offered non monetary contributions. One family offered a place to stay if he visits Chile. Another person offered to let him drive his Lamborghini if he makes a stop in Switzerland.
The last anyone outside his friends and family heard publicly from Villanueva was on Dec. 24, when he tweeted:
“Celebrating my last Christmas with the whole family :)”