For the first time we are hearing from the family of Jackson Standefer. The 14-year-old was hiking with his family in the Grand Canyon, when he and his step grandmother were crossing a creek and got swept away. Officials with the Grand Canyon National Park confirm his body was found on Friday almost two weeks after the duo went missing.
Channel 3 spoke with Jackson’s uncle about the legacy he hopes his nephew will leave behind.
“The kids at McCallie are hurting. They are destroyed, they are upset. They don't know these feelings. They have never lost someone before,” said Mark McOmie.
When it is hard to find words to express how they feel Mark McOmie wants McCallie students to remember this phrase. “I hate chicken.”
A silly saying with a powerful message. In memory of a boy who is missed by his classmates, teachers and friends. “That means, you know that I know, that I know that you know, that we know how each other feels.”
McOmie said he will remember Jackson’s smile and the things he said that made others smile.
One story sticks out. It’s one he shared with Jackson’s classmates at a recent memorial. “We were trying to figure out what to do for dinner so we were like ‘Should we stop at Subway, Taco Bell?’ Everything we would throw out Jackson would be like "I hate Subway, I hate Taco Bell, I hate Pizza." We were like ‘What in the world.’ He was just hungry, he was losing it. Finally we were like ‘Okay, we will stop to go get some chicken fingers. Everybody likes chicken fingers. It’s easy.’ He starts screaming “I hate chicken. I hate chicken. We were like you do not hate chicken, you ate chicken yesterday. No body hates chicken.”
A funny moment that is now a treasured family memory, and a way for Jackson’s friends to laugh through the loss. “It is a cool thing; it has been a really special thing. The ‘I hate Chicken’ response has brought a lot of happiness in a troubling time. “
These hats were designed for the 8th grade class at McCallie, but McOmie said kids across Chattanooga are now adopting the phrase. “About 200 to McCallie, 100 to Baylor. We will take another hundred over to GPS.”
He hopes when people see each other wearing these hats and the words just aren't there. The message will speak for itself.