Foodborne Illness:
  People who've fallen victim


    Jacob Francisco


"We weep as we recall how the Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome tore through the inside of Jacob's body like a hurricane."
  — Jacob's family

October 30, 1997 - June 29, 2004

Jacob was a dream made true for his parents when he was born on October 30, 1997. People were in such awe of his beauty as an infant that they would tease that he couldn't be a boy. He immediately showed his love for life and everything in it. His big brown eyes and chubby cheeks would capture your heart, and his glowing personality would keep it. His mother treasured the flowers and bugs that he would bring her. The birth of his brother, Joshua, was a dream made true for him. Pride was overwhelming as he shared his love for life and everything in it with his brother.

Long rides in the seat behind his Dad on the bicycle as an infant developed into Jacob wearing out training wheels on his own bicycle. On his fifth birthday, Jacob told his Dad to take off the training wheels. He immediately balanced his little bike up and down the driveway as he discovered more independence.

We will never forget a conversation that Jacob had with his mother one day in the spring of 2004. He declared that he would be famous one day. His mother asked him for what he would be famous . . . soccer, president of U.S.A., or what?

"I don't know, Mommy, but I will be on the covers of magazines."

Jacob died on June 29, 2004 when he was 6 years old. The paragraphs above are how I would like Jacob to be remembered, but obviously not a lot of people can envision those memories as his family. So, as a tribute to the beautiful child who loved life and declared that he would be famous, his family and friends have established the Jacob Francisco Lectureship at the East Tennessee State University (ETSU) Quillen College of Medicine and the Jacob Francisco Memorial Century.

The annual Jacob Francisco Lectureship has brought renowned physicians, educators, and researchers to ETSU every November since 2005. A large lecture auditorium is filled with medical and nursing students, residents, physicians, and interested members of the public who receive outstanding information to use and share in their everyday lives. If you would like more information on the lectureship series, please contact S.T.O.P. and they will direct you on where to go next. The Jacob Francisco Memorial Century occurs on the first Saturday of June every year, and is a charity bicycle ride that raises funds and awareness. It exists also because of the enjoyment that Jacob and his Dad shared from cycling.

Anyone who has spent some time at the S.T.O.P. website can recognize the danger of foodborne illnesses and the tragedy that can result from contamination. Other parents have done incredible stories about how their children died, and we weep as we recall how the Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome tore through the inside of Jacob's body like a hurricane. A brief look into Jacob's life and how we try to promote his love of life is how we wish him to be remembered in public. We hope that Jacob's life and his legacy can provide some comfort to those of you who have arrived at Safe Tables Our Priority.


Thank you to STOP Foodborne Illness and the individuals shown above and their families for permission to republish their testimonies and photographs.

Copyright © 2011 Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, Waltham, MA.

Last page update: September 11, 2011