Around a hundred people attended the tree dedication Saturday for Nick Jackson, the Norcross High freshman who was fatally shot in a home invasion last month.
Guests crowded around the okami cherry tree and plaque planted in Rossie Brundage Park last Saturday morning to see the memorial and hear a few words about the 15-year-old. The dedication was led by Robert "Sandy" Lynn of the Lum Howell Homeowners Association, and Jackson's pastor, Bishop Dreyfus Smith, said a prayer.
"We felt that a living tree would be the perfect memorial for Nicolas, because the tree symbolizes the strength and beauty in Nicolas' life," said Lynn. "Seeing this tree will keep his memory alive in our hearts."
Jackson loved sports, Lynn continued, so the neighborhood thought it would be appropriate to have the memorial at Rossie Brundage for other sports lovers to enjoy. Jackson was also on his high school football team.
Shameka Render, Jackson's mother, said a few words during the dedication, too. She explained how her son used to play basketball after school on those very same courts. She also expressed how grateful she is for the support from the Norcross community.
"Some of you, we don't even know. We've never even met, but you pulled together as a community, and that means more to us than words can ever describe," said Render. "You make me smile on days that I just don't want to. Days when it's so hard to get up out of bed, I think about all of ya'll. Even those who are not here, you just show so much support, by coming by and bringing food, by sending cards, just coming and saying 'I'm so sorry.' I just want to say we love you so much, and you're our extended family."
Norcross Neighbors and the Lum Howell Homeowners Association joined together to set up the tree and plaque through donations they collected from the community. The tree was fully donated by John Deere, Aztec Stone donated the stone used for the plaque, and Valley Crest donated the labor and plants around the tree.
Even though many in the community supported the tree dedication, Erica Eby and Wende Lynn of Lum Howell spearheaded the effort. Others who have been instrumental in the memorial include: city staff Craig Mims, Rip Robertson, Meryl Wilkerson, James Lemoine and Marques Story; Lum Howell neighbors Vicky and Hugh Cooper, Jake Eby, Mike Skeens, Sandy Lynn and Alicia Morin; and Norcross businesses Paizano's and 45 South Cafe.
Funds are still being accepted for the dedication. All leftover funds will go toward a scholarship set up by Hopewell Baptist Church, Jackson's place of worship. For those interested in donating, send funds to: Norcross Neighbors, 197 Lake Dr., Norcross, GA 30071. Make checks payable to "Norcross Neighbors" with a note mentioning the Nick Jackson memorial.