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Local yo-yo enthusiast using his string skills to give back

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Posted at 1:58 PM, Jan 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-30 08:06:23-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -It is a safe bet to say many of you reading this played with a yo-yo when you were a kid.

"It is just fun, its a stress reliever," said Virginia Beach resident Jonathan Saelens. Saelens, unlike the rest of us, kept up his skills over the past two decades. Long gone is "Walk the Dog and Rock the Baby," as Saelene is a bit more advanced.

His tricks stop people in their tracks on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, but his string skills didn't pop up overnight. "My mother saw a big yo-yo boom in the 90's and she bought me a couple to see if would help with my disability," he explained.

That was when Jonathan was about 13. The yo-yo made his fine motor skill disability, disappear. "I started creating my own tricks there, and going to competitions and performing at festivals," he said.

But in 2019 his world came unraveled. "My mother passed away from cancer and I felt like maybe there is something I could do to give back," said Saelens.

Jonathan's mother died of cervical cancer at 69. "My mother is the reason I got into the yo-yo, her heart is what connects me to it," he said.

But instead of spiraling in sorrow, he decided to honor his late mother by starting the charity: Throw Cancer Away.

"After she passed away it was a way for me to stay connected to her heart," said Saelens.

Post COVID-19, he plans to dazzle those suffering from an an illness with his mind blowing maneuvers -- bringing them up, during their battle. Any money raised goes to cancer research.

"I am in a sense continuing her legacy," said Saelens.