MJ Moxi3: A Gift That Matters

Like most of the world, Jessie Munoz didn’t know much about childhood cancer. She had seen the St. Jude commercials of the smiling bald babies, but Munoz wasn’t aware of the shockingly low federal funding that was allotted specifically to childhood cancer (which was four percent at the time). She also didn’t know any of the specifics of what children must endure when they are diagnosed with cancer. It wasn’t until 2021, after Jessie’s family received new orders to move back to San Diego, California, when Munoz spoke with her good friend, Christine, about her daughter, Elysse, who had been diagnosed with stage four rhabdomyosarcoma two years prior; Elysse was just 11 years old.

           Jessie, a military spouse, an aspiring children’s book author and illustrator, and a stay-at-home mother of two little girls, listened to Christine as she cried in desperation, fear, and sadness about her daughter’s diagnosis. Christine explained how Elysse’s type of cancer was considered “rare” and the research for rhabdomyosarcoma simply wasn’t there due to the lack of funding. Her family was clinging onto hope, as there really wasn’t much else that they could do. Jessie had always been an extremely empathetic soul and she felt every nerve in her body come alive as she heard a fellow mother express her terror about the possibility of losing her baby girl. Watching her own babies run around freely and finding delight in the simplest of things, Jessie felt compelled to do something.

            A dreamer by nature, Jessie thought if she could raise enough money, then maybe she could help fund the research that would be needed to save Elysse’s life. She knew that she would have to somehow make money by creating something. So, Jessie began to write a picture book in rhyme scheme about a sick bunny, named MJ Moxi3, who meets a magical blue butterfly who sends him on an unexpected journey to help others in his condition. The “M” is for her eldest daughter, Mina, and the “J” is for her youngest daughter, Juliet. She wanted the main character to inspire courage and to bring joy to the children and families fighting this horrible disease. Having watched “The Secret,” she feels that when people are able to grab ahold of their inner light, true miracles can happen, even if it’s just giving someone a little more time. This is why Jessie also chose the word “moxie,” as by definition it means courage, determination, and perseverance.

             Jessie is a self-taught artist, and even though she hasn’t had a lot of traditional training, she felt that illustrating her own picture book was crucial. However, given that she juggles her time between being a stay-at-home mother and working on these illustrations, Jessie wanted to do something else that would be more immediate. That’s when she had the idea to create a plush animal of her main character. However, Jessie didn’t know the first thing about creating a plush bunny. Using the Alibaba app, she was able to find a company in China that would create a stuffed animal based off an individual’s design. One of the initial obstacles was learning Adobe Illustrator in order to send a digital design. After months of tears and frustration, Jessie taught herself the program and created her MJ Moxi3 design. Yet, after working with this company for over 9 months, which included many late nights due to the time difference in China, this company attacked her character by labeling her “difficult” and expressed that the design simply wasn’t doable.

            Jessie felt completely defeated. She spent so much time and energy trying to communicate effectively. So, after she allowed herself a week to process her feelings, Jessie went to work in finding another company. She wasn’t going to waste all her hard work with nothing to show for it. And, amazingly, she found another company that not only executed her vision but did it for half of the cost that the first company had quoted her. Jessie only had a limited amount of money, given to her from her father in law’s passing to help build her career. The bulk order of the MJ Moxi3 plush bunnies took all over her money, but Jessie was elated that she had just enough.

Everything that makes up the MJ Moxi3 plush bunny has a significance. The bunny has black fur because the moments that these children and their families find themselves in are dark times. The purples in the bunny’s skin represent the lavender cancer ribbon, which represents all cancers. Jessie didn’t want to discriminate from other cancers, because whether someone is an adult or a child, everyone could use encouragement. During this time, Jessie’s beloved grandmother, Patricia, had also been diagnosed with breast cancer, so she wanted to dedicate this to her as well. The blues in the skin represent the magic that Jessie believes is essential for children to believe in, and the everyday miracles that can happen, as well as signifying our own inner light that we call upon in times of hardship. The bunny’s eyes were inspired by her little brother and her best friend. Jessie’s little brother, Zach, used to draw his cartoon characters with one big eye and one small eye and her best friend Jamie, has one blue eye and one brown eye. It was important to share the message message that we are all unique and beautiful in our own way, that no two people are the same, and that no one is perfect.

Love has always been Jessie’s guiding light and she feels love has the power to heal. The plush bunny has a heart patch on one of his ears. He also has an outline of a heart stitched into the palms of his paws. Then, of course, there’s the “3” representing love in MJ Moxi3. The bunny has patchwork fur to represent those that have undergone or that are undergoing chemotherapy. Jessie wanted to give him big ears, big feet, and a big tummy with an outie belly button to give the children a little extra smile; she was also inspired by Bill the Cat, Bugs Bunny, and Roger Rabbit.

cc-TDI Researchers with a MJ Moxi3 Bunny

The MJ Moxi3 bunny is now available over Etsy. After creating social media profiles for MJ Moxi3, Jessie finds families that are battling childhood cancer and asks if they would be interested in one of her plush bunnies. Initially, she simply donated a dozen or more bunnies herself to families she came across over Instagram. Then she asked her friends, family, and anyone else viewing her social media to message her if they would like to donate a bunny to a family fighting childhood cancer. They then receive the name and address of a child who is fighting, and they purchase a bunny for them through Munoz’s Etsy Store, “MJ Moxi3.”

Families of the children who are battling cancer often send videos and pictures of their child receiving their own bunny, and each one pulls at every one of Jessie’s heart strings. She has been simply overwhelmed with gratitude, joy, and disbelief. She can’t believe she had this idea and it’s actually affecting children and their families the way she had hoped it would. In addition, Jessie has been able to donate 30% of her proceeds to childhood cancer research.

Having recently made her first donation to cc-TDI, Jessie felt a mix of emotions. She was sad Elysse wasn’t here to benefit from anything that could possibly come from it, and yet, she was excited to be doing it for other children like Elysse. When she thinks about these brave children, and how they burst into award-winning grins in the midst of the biggest fight for their lives, simply because they are gifted this MJ Moxi3 plush bunny… Jessie feels she has been given the biggest gift there is. To be able to witness LOVE time and time again on these children’s faces, all in honor of Elysse.


To purchase or donate a MJ Moxi3 bunny, visit: https://www.etsy.com/listing/1498938212/mj-moxi3-plush-bunny.

Share this post
Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin