INSIDE EDITION - It may be a simple birthday wish, but it means the world to this terminally ill Arizona boy.
Jacob Priestley is turning 15 years old, and for his birthday, he wants to receive 100,000 birthday cards.
“The cards are just what makes me keep going,” Jacob told InsideEdition.com. “It’s the best thing.”
"Mighty Jake" suffers from mitochondrial disease, which keeps his body from restoring energy and leaves the boy feeling drained.
The disease, which has no cure, will ultimately lead to organ failure.
“[The hardship] for us it's just seeing him hurt and in pain,” Jake’s mother, Britney, told InsideEdition.com. “We have to live each day hour-by-hour because the nature of his disease is so unpredictable.”
Jake, who lives in Mesa, has been confined to a bed for the last several years, leaving Britney with limited ideas on what to do for his birthday.
"I knew he loves birthday cards, so I asked some friends and family to send him a card and we got about 200," Britney told InsideEdition.com. “We surprised him on his birthday and he was so excited!!"
That excitement led the family to lead a new campaign the following year.
That was when the idea sparked.
“The next year we took to Facebook and asked for them again. We set a goal of 10,000 and doubled that!” she said. “So this year he was asked what his goal is and he said 50k. Well, we knew we could surpass that and so he said let's try for 100,000.”
This is the third year the family is doing this for Jake, who also has Autism, with a higher goal each year.
On August 28, Jake will turn 15. Britney took to the "Adventures with Mighty Jake" Facebook page on May 1, appealing to well-wishers for the greeting cards.
“I love the cards so much because I love that people, random people, see my story and they write to me.” Jake said. “I don’t know why, but it just gives me a warm feeling in my heart."
With about a month left, Jake has collected more than 14,000 cards so far, some from celebrities like Matt Damon and Thor star Chris Hemsworth, as well as cards from colleges and universities.
“You can’t put it into words how happy I am that these random people will just send me cards,” Jake said.
Britney says that last year, her son was sent cards from former President Barack Obama and Pixar.
“Adventures with Mighty Jake” keeps its followers updated on the card counts and encourages followers to spread the word about the campaign and the disease.
“Giving him the cards and seeing the smile on his face as a parent — that’s all you want,” his father, Tom, told InsideEdition.com. “His smile never stops, even without the cards. It’s just the extra icing on the cake.”
Jake attends school through a virtual academy called Insight Academy of Arizona. The company utilizes real teachers and students and he has a laptop he uses in bed to do his work.
Jake also likes to watch YouTube clips and play video games when he’s not napping or doing schoolwork.
But his condition still causes heartbreak for his mother.
“He is always in pain — it never stops,” Britney said. “He has no energy to do anything. Just getting up and walking to the bathroom tires him out. He has a hard time breathing so he has to wear oxygen.”
Jake says he likes handwritten cards, homemade cards, and cards with animals on them.
Tom says they are going to reach the goal of 100,000 one way or another, and most of the cards Jake won’t see until the big day.
“They keep them hidden from me before my birthday,” Jake says.
A huge reason to spread the word about the cards is to also spread awareness of the disease.
“The cards are great,” Tom said. “The bigger thing, his life goal, and our life goal as a parent, we often wonder [why] you’re put on this Earth and I think for me and his mom, it’s to fight this disease and try to find a cure for him.”
And getting 100,000 birthday cards is not Jake's only milestone. He's also hoping to celebrate 10 more birthdays, and is ecstatic for his 15th.
“I’m very excited… because I’m getting higher up in teens and really, my goal is to be 25. That’s my goal,” he said.
To send "Mighty Jake" cards, they can be mailed to:
P.O Box 855
Queen Creek, AZ 85124