Living 'Fully Alive'

Name: Jay Hewitt

Current Status: Alumni

Graduation Year: BA '03

The Hewitt family is well-known and well-loved by the HIU community. Dr. Natalie Hewitt (BA ’02) is a popular Professor of English, and her husband, Jay (BA ’03), serves as a Pastor of Friends Church in Orange. Their adorable daughter, Hero, often steals the show in the Hewitt’s social media posts and YouTube videos.

In 2017, this wonderful family was broadsided when Jay was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor, which has caused a massive shift in perspective for the Hewitts, especially Jay.

“I’ve come to realize that too many of people go through the motions of their lives feeling bored – even trapped – lacking passion, purpose or meaning. After receiving my diagnosis, I felt a growing desire for making, and enjoying, deep connections with others: my wife and daughter first, then with my close friends and faith community.”

Jay chose to use his tumor as an opportunity to share the fathomless an inexhaustible goodness of God in his own life in the hope that others may begin to recognize and experience that goodness and discover God’s purposes for their lives as well. He created a website and shared a series of very personal, poignant videos of his journey via YouTube.

By the grace of God, and to the amazement of everyone involved, Jay’s intricate brain surgery was 100% successful, with absolutely no degenerative effects. Unfortunately, however, Jay’s unthinkable battle didn’t end with that victory.

One year after full healing and recovery from the tumor, Jay was diagnosed with brain cancer. “Doctors tell me it is terminal,” Jay shares on his website. “With God on my side, I believe that anything is possible. I am not exactly sure what the future holds, but I do know this: I am as dedicated now as ever to living each day fully alive. I am relying on God's strength during this time of weakness.”

The cancer treatments have greatly impeded Jay’s ability to communicate, so he is on an extended leave of absence from preaching. But Jay is still very fit and athletic, and has long dreamed of competing in an Ironman triathalon. In gratitude for God granting him physical strength and a thriving spiritual life, Jay is training to for an Ironman while undergoing brain cancer treatment.

“Is it possible to complete 140 miles of swimming, biking and running in under 17 hours while undergoing cancer treatment? Physically, I may well be at my weakest point while attempting something that takes a tremendous amount of strength, endurance and fortitude. Crossing the finish line will be a tremendous testimony that with God, all things really are possible.” 

Some benefactors in Jay’s church have hired a small production crew to capture and document Jay’s remarkable journey, training, and competition on video. The Hewitt’s are narrating the videos with thoughts and reflections along the way as a priceless heirloom for their daughter.

Jay’s original plan was to compete in the Australia Ironman 2020, but due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, it was postponed until next year. He is now planning instead to compete in the Ironman Competition in Santa Rosa, CA, on July 25, 2020. “Whatever happens, I’m doing this so others can see that cancer doesn’t get to have the last word on how they live or dream,” Jay says. “My greatest desire is for people to experience more meaningful, deeper connections in their lives - with others, and with God – so that they, too, can live each day as nothing less than fully alive.”

On October 9, 2020 he finally crossed the finish line. Jay completed the IRONMAN VR Kona virtual race as an IRONMAN Foundation athlete in 13 hours 40 mins and 54 seconds. 

His remarkably inspiring “IronDad” story has been featured in several local and national news sites, including the OC RegisterNewsweek, and ESPN’s SportsCenter..

The Hewitt’s faith and continued hope in times of adversity has encouraged many. To tune in and watch God work as their story unfolds, visit, and/or