Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Grant Janszen's spirit, humor inspired many

Favorite actor Will Smith recently visited

By Nicole Hamilton
Enquirer staff writer

ALEXANDRIA - Grant J. Janszen's mischievous grin helped make him an accomplished Texas Hold 'em player, but his indomitable spirit - evident as he dealt with fatal bone cancer - made him an inspiration.

Diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma in 2002, the 15-year-old handled his fate with humor. When part of his left arm was amputated last April, the left-hander relearned to play video games, and even nicknamed what was left of his arm "Stump" as if it weren't a burden, but simply another life adjustment.

"He never complained, not once. When he walked into a room - you knew because it would just light up. He was always telling jokes, always laughing. To tell you the truth, he was a class clown," said his father, Jeff Janszen of Fort Thomas.

Grant died Aug. 16 at home.

Grant's tenacity of spirit captured the attention of his favorite actor, Will Smith, who last week promised the Bishop Brossert High sophomore a telephone call. He delivered more than he promised, visiting Grant last week in person.

"When Will walked into his mother's house - it was the last time Grant smiled. Will showed up with Men in Black posters, hats and T-shirts. Grant named his dog - a miniature dachshund - after actress Halle Berry, so Will had this huge Catwoman poster for him - signed by her," his father said.

Being big for his age meant extra prowess on the football and soccer fields.

A three-year member of the Newport Junior Catholic Football League, he was the team's place kicker and offensive lineman. He also played select soccer for St. Joseph Elementary School of Cold Spring.

Raised in the countryside in California, Ky., Grant had his sights on someday owning a home in the area. He spent his last days with his family, driving around his childhood hills in a golf cart.

He had also enjoyed jumping from the highest cliffs at Lake Cumberland.

"He touched a lot of lives. Up until the end he was strong, just never complained. There must have been 1,500 people at the visitation and people at the funeral who never met him but because he made an impact anyway. He was just a happy kid," his father said.

Other survivors include his mother, Glenna Janszen of Alexandria; stepmother Sara Janszen of Fort Thomas; a brother, Drew Janszen of Fort Thomas; sister Rachel Janszen of Highland Heights; stepbrother Lee Plummer of Fort Thomas; maternal grandparents Pauline and Joe White of California, Ky.; and paternal grandmother Joan Janszen of Highland Heights.

Services have been held.

Burial was in Mount Gilead Cemetery, Carthage.

Memorials can be made to Grant a Wish Foundation, c/o U.S. Bank of Northern Kentucky, 5400 Alexandria Pike, Cold Spring, 41076.


E-mail nhamilton@enquirer.com

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Grant Janszen's spirit, humor inspired many