Interview with Terminally Ill Young Man Being Sent on Trip Around the World Thanks to Strangers

Melissa Knowles
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A year ago, 23-year-old Jake Villanueva of Vancouver was diagnosed with stage 4 renal cell carcinoma, a terminal illness that affected his kidneys. He was given six months to live.

A few days ago, he went on the social news site Reddit to share his story in the "Ask Me Anything" section. He was expecting people to ask questions about his disease or share similar experiences, but he never expected what happened next.

Not only was Villanueva's story quickly voted up to the site's homepage, there was also an outpouring of support from strangers. Lindsay Minar of Portland, Oregon, started a fund to help Villanueva fulfill his dream of taking one last trip, around the world.

Within 24 hours, more than 1,200 people had donated a total of $30,000. At one point Villanueva even asked people to stop sending money, because he figured he had enough for his journey. Villanueva said he was "stunned" by the generosity of strangers.

People also offered nonmonetary contributions. One family offered a place to stay if he visits Chile. Another person offered to let him drive his Lamborghini if he makes a stop in Switzerland.

Villanueva has already beaten the odds by living beyond his initial prognosis of six months, but knows that his health will ultimately determine his travel plans. He plans to first make his way to New York and then make stops on every continent.