DENISON, TEXAS - Every year more than 400 men between the ages of 15 to 35 die from testicular cancer and this year one of those men included a Denison firefighter. And now his mother shares how she uses his tragic death as a way to save the lives of other men.
Earlier this year, we did a story on Rhonda Kohles and that story has not only impacted people in Texoma but around the world, as she works tirelessly to fulfill her son's last plea raising awareness about testicular cancer.
"They called us about 4:00 that morning and told us he wasn't going to make it and up until that time we had so much hope," said Kohles.
On Jan 6th 2011, Robert Jones, a Denison firefighter and father of three, took his last breath. It happened just a few months after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.
But before he died he wanted one last thing from his family.
"He said mama we have got to do something about this we've got to get the word out about testicular cancer," said Kohles.
At a benefit concert over the weekend, she unveiled the Robert Jones Foundation.
It's an effort she's worked tirelessly on, making it her life mission to spread the word about the potentially deadly disease that claimed the life of her healthy 27-year-old son.
"I thought I'm going to uphold what he wanted me to do and so I got out and doing what Robert wanted me to do and warned young men about testicular cancer," said Kohles.
Shortly after his death, she shared his story with us in hopes that some young man might get tested for the disease. Little did she know that it would be seen by someone who lived more than a thousand miles away.
This is Mike Craycraft, the Founder of the Testicular Cancer Society.
If you take one look at him and Rhonda, you'd think they knew each other for years but they only recently met, after Mike (who is a survivor of testicular cancer) saw her story on kxii.com.
"I just really saw a mother that was in a lot of pain and turmoil because of what testicular cancer had taken away from her and just felt the need to connect," said Craycraft.
After just one conversation, Mike knew he wanted to find a special way to include Robert in his 5th year anniversary celebration of surviving testicular cancer.
"It was literally right when I was watching your video that I thought I want to take Robert's name with me on the top of a mountain," said Craycraft.
Just months after the story aired, he went to the UK and spent an entire day climbing one of the highest mountains and at the top he put up a flag with Robert's name on it, along with two other men who lost their battle with testicular cancer.
"Robert always wanted to climb a mountain and his favorite song being 'The Climb' by Miley Cyrus, at least the song he responded to a lot while he was sick, it was just a phenomenal connection that you wouldn't expect from Ohio to North Texas," said Craycraft.
"What was that moment like? I just kind of got chills, I didn't have an option for failure I had contacted Rhonda and said this is what I'm going to do if I had to get on my hands and knees to get to the top, I couldn't come back and say I'm sorry I couldn't make it," said Craycraft.
"I feel like Mike's my angel sent from my son he has just been such a support for me," said Kohles.
And now the two have joined forces, spreading the word about testicular cancer all in an effort to save more lives.
"I don't want another mother to have to go through what we had to go through, I don't want to be the founder of the Robert Jones foundation but somebody has to because I don't want somebody else to go through this," said Kohles.
To learn more about Robert's Foundation and how to donate visit: http://www.facebook.com/groups/255053517842522/
To learn more about testicular cancer: http://www.testicularcancersociety.org/