“Be gallant, be great, be gracious.”
He’s only 18, but Jake Bailey has captivated the world with a moving and heart-wrenching speech he gave at his final school assembly. Donning his school uniform and seated in a wheelchair, the school captain left his hospital bed for the night to deliver his Christchurch Boys’ High School classmates an inspiring and beautiful message.
“I wrote a speech, and then a week before I was due to deliver that speech tonight, they said you’ve got cancer.
“They said, if you don’t get any treatment within the next three weeks, you’re going to die.
“And then they told me that I wouldn’t be here tonight to deliver that speech.”
After several weeks of feeling ill, the teenager decided to visit his doctor. He was later diagnosed with a rare and incredible aggressive form of cancer, Burkitts non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which presents itself in rapidly enlarging tumour masses.
Watch a clip of Jake’s speech below (post continues after video).
Telling his peers to be “grateful for the opportunities you have”, Jake challenged the group to be “passionately dedicated to the pursuit of short-term goals.”
“Work with pride on what is in front of us. We don’t know where we might end up. Or when it might end up.”
Finishing his speech with ‘Altiora Peto’ — a Latin phrase meaning ‘I aim higher’ — the head boy was brought to tears when his classmates rose to perform a spontaneous haka in his honour.
Jake will not be sitting his final exams, and will be undergoing intense chemotherapy in the coming months.
What did you take from Jake Bailey’s moving speech?