ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Northeast High School honored one of its own during their homecoming game Friday night, two weeks after an 18-year-old star student and football player collapsed on the football field.
Jacquez Welch’s teammates, friends, and others in the community wore t-shirts, held up signs, and displayed his jersey number to honor his memory and the legacy he leaves as an organ donor.
“It’s a movement, definitely. I’ve been seeing it everywhere, worldwide. The shirts, the number, it’s just wow,” said Marcia Nelson, Jacquez’s mother.
She said the support overwhelms her.
On September 20, Jacquez collapsed on the field due to a rare arteriovenous malformation, or AVM, which causes bleeding on the brain. Jacquez was never diagnosed.
He died a few days later.
“It’s the first time in two weeks that I have to be back here to this field and not see my son on it. So it is going to get emotional,” said Nelson. “But like I tell everybody, just keep your strength and us in your prayers, and I’m going to be being who I am.”
In the sea of black and red, his teammates wore his name “Quez,” the number 4, and the words of Bob Marley.
"You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice."
As a tribute to his memory, the team presented his family with a signed photo frame and roses.
“He respected everybody. He was helpful. He’d help somebody out when they were down. He was a great leader,” his mother said.
Jacquez continued helping others in his death, giving his organs, helping at least seven people live happier, healthier lives.
His mother told FOX 13 she believes that act will be a part of his legacy.
“I think it will because from the numbers going the way it did from just his story. Yes, I think it did, and I think it changed a lot of people’s mind as an organ donor of how he helped somebody,” Nelson said.
As the family gets ready for his funeral, his mother said she wants the community to know one thing: “Thank you for all the support and just keep praying for my family.”
The school will have a photo of Jacquez Welch in the locker room and a scholarship has been established in his name.
His family said they will hold his viewing on Sunday at 3 p.m. and funeral Monday at 11 a.m. at First Baptist Church in St. Petersburg through Davis and Davis Funeral Services.