Life of 8-year-old full of living
By Reggie Ponder
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Jaiden Jones’s mother says he lived a lot in just eight years.
Monday afternoon, Jaiden’s father, Troy Jones, and his mother, Dawn Graham, recalled their son as fun-loving but also serious about doing things right.
Jaiden, 8, a member of the Elizabeth City Rampage youth football team, was transported by ambulance Thursday evening from the practice field at Sheep-Harney Elementary School to Sentara Albemarle Medical Center with what turned out to be a fatal cardiac arrest — caused, his parents said they learned later, by a heart anomaly.
Jones said he wants to spread the word about the heart anomaly because he has learned it affects many young kids and isn’t usually detected. Jones and Graham said they know Jaiden would want them to be OK.
“He was an encourager,” Jones said.
The parents said their son worked hard in class and played hard at recess.
“In our opinion he was everything you would want in a child,” Jones said.
The Rampage organization has been wonderfully supportive, they said.
“They have been very supportive” Jones said. “Coaches have been here and parents have reached out to us.”
Jones said he has heard the team plans to have a moment of silence in Jaiden’s honor at the game Friday and plans other tributes as well.
Jones and Graham said the Rampage organization had told them they plan to retire Jaiden’s jersey, #22, and will frame the jersey and present it to the parents along with a banner signed by members of the Rampage team.
The parents said the team would be wearing stickers on their helmets this season honoring Jaiden and also have something on their jerseys as a tribute to him.
“They’re dedicating the season to him,” Graham said.
The Rampage organization held a meeting Monday evening to offer support to Jones and Graham, to support each other and to move forward with plans to honor Jaiden.
Elizabeth City’s semi-pro football team, the River City Outlaws, also will be honoring Jaiden this season, the parents said.
Jones said his son started shooting pool around age 5 and enjoyed word search puzzles and board games. He had learned to play chess and just recently had gotten the knack of chess strategy, he said.
And whatever he did, he gave it everything he had, Jones said.
Although it sounds unusual to speak of an 8-year-old as a perfectionist, the word suits Jaiden, he said.
“He wanted to make sure that he did everything right,” Jones said.
Jones described his son as inquisitive — always asking questions.
“He always wanted to learn more,” Jones said.
Graham said Jaiden was a natural learner.
“He took it and he absorbed it like a sponge,” she said.
Jones said they appreciate all the support they have gotten from the community.
“The entire community, and the hospital and fire department, his school — Pasquotank — they have been very supportive,” Jones said.
Businesses also have called and offered their support, he said.
“The community has come together,” Jones said. “We have a lot of community support.”
Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools Superintendent Larry Cartner said Monday that counselors have been on hand at Pasquotank Elementary School to help students and staff cope with the loss.
"ECPPS was deeply saddened to learn of the loss of one of our students this past week,” Cartner said Monday. “The student attended Pasquotank Elementary School. We have had additional counselors available for students and staff."
Jones said Jaiden touched a lot of people’s lives. He loved football, was in his third year of taekwondo and loved to fish, he said.
“He started fishing at a young age,” Jones said.
“He caught his first fish when he was 3,” Graham added.
Jaiden also learned to swim this past summer.
Graham said Jaiden took pride in being an uncle.
“He was a helper,” Graham said. “That was important to him. And he was a big brother.”
Jones said Jaiden was honest, loved to help out — he started helping cook at age 4 — and had said he wanted to take care of his parents when he got older and could make some money.
“He was a blessing,” Jones said. “He always wanted to help people.”
Jaiden had recently written a letter at school explaining that the way to be a successful student was to be focused, listen to the teacher and work hard.
Graham said the teachers sometimes would ask Jaiden to explain a lesson to some of the other kids in the class who were struggling to understand it.
His classmates wrote letters to the parents telling them Jaiden was a great reader and a fast runner.
Graham said Jaiden loved spending time with her parents and enjoyed eating the home-cooked vegetables his grandparents would serve him when he was at their house.
“He has brought a lot of life and joy to them,” Graham said. “And I think part of their longevity is because of him.”
His parents said Jaiden gave life everything he had and got a lot out of it.
“A lot happened in eight years,” Graham said.