Family and friends of a London, Ont., teen are mourning the loss of a young man with a bright future tragically cut short.
At 17, Jalen Rodriguez was attending high school Saunders Secondary School and playing volleyball with London Volleyball Club. He was also involved in the community — volunteer service was a part of his everyday routine.
On Sunday, March 8, that all changed when he suffered a severe asthma attack and was fighting for his life. Jalen’s family posted that he was put on life support but passed away shortly after.
“He was mature beyond his years and I can’t say enough. All I can do is look up to him literally and physically now. He was the most powerful person I ever met,” said Jalen’s older brother Randell Everett.
While Jalen was on life support, Everett said he went to visit his brother at the hospital and the support from Jalen’s friends was astounding.
“I’m walking through the hallway, and I look outside to see his friends all standing in a circle. They all wave me over and I go into the circle. They put their arms around me and they’re like, “The first time I met Jalen, the guy gave me the sweater off his back.”
Jalen was known by his family to be a hard worker, a supporter who touched so many lives throughout his 17 years.
“I can not express how hard of a worker he was. He was literally just everything you should inspire to be as a human being. He’s healed so many people in such a short amount of time,” said Everett.
Jalen’s wish was to be an organ donor if he passed away. Everett says that speaks to the good nature Jalen had in him.
“We got a call that some heart transplant had been successful and Jalen’s heart is beating today in another person and that person is alive. It really just speaks to the legacy of who he is.”
“Donating your organs is one of the most selfless acts I’ve ever seen from anybody. It would have been what Jalen wanted, and he’s done it, and he’s saved a few lives.”
Everett is now working alongside Saunders Secondary School, and Jalen’s volleyball club to create awards in honour of his brother.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and ban on mass gatherings, Jalen’s memorial at the Forest City Community Church has been postponed. There is no set date at this time.
Therese Bain, referred to as a second mother to Jalen, created a gofundme page during the time of Jalen’s attack. Since the creation of the page, a $5,000 funding goal was surpassed and is now sitting at just shy of $12,000.
The page is still active and donations are still accepted on the website.