Thanks to this community for embracing our family and creating ripples of hope that have become waves of action in remembrance of our son, Jesse Parker. Next year will be 10 years since his death, days of loss and hope. The 10-year anniversary will also mark a transition for the Remembering Jesse Parker race. We’ve strived to create an inclusive community event that extends beyond Jesse’s life. So in that vein we will transition the “Jesse Race” to a broader community event. Over the next year the leadership of Jesse’s board will shape that plan. We hope for your continued support for this event, in our mind, a next chapter, a lasting “Jesse gift."

The Jesse race was started by his friends and teachers. Our hope for the race was threefold: create a space for Jesse’s friends and classmates to share their grief, to give a voice to those in our community walking with loss and to share Jesse’s dreams of social justice. We cherish the “Jesse stories” from his friends. A new knowledge that saying the name of someone who is gone does not remind you of their death, it reminds you that they lived, that they were loved.

Our family moves forward to this next chapter in a more private way. Jesse was our first child. We were bumbling parents teaching our child how to live and became bumbling parents struggling to teach ourselves how to live without him, lessons never taught in the parenting books. We appreciate your understanding for our awkward efforts. Bria and Jake are now old enough to carry forward their brother’s dreams with a small private family foundation focused on clean water and supporting the underdog. Our hope is that for years to come our family will explore, over Thanksgiving meals, ways to share a little “Jesse love” and continue those ripples of hope. A gift to see the world through “Jesse’s eyes."

We are deeply grateful to the race board, volunteers, sponsors and participants who made Jesse’s Race a touching experience. Their efforts have been tireless, and we are humbled by their work. We hold most sacred the love shared over walks, pancakes and cups of coffees. Hugs and tears exchanged by those who are heartbroken, yet not broken. None of us escapes life without loss; we are thankful to belong to a community who grows by sharing those vulnerabilities.

Thanks for walking with a kind boy with a bright smile. Love survives all things.

With gratitude, the Parker Family: Brad, Jen, Bria, Jake and in spirit Jesse.

Jenny Parker and Brad Parker and family,

Tomah

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Tomah Journal editor

Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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