Jayden Coleman had the opportunity to go to Missouri last week and join 11 of his family members on their annual vacation. Instead, the Frederick Douglass High School student opted to stay in Lexington to be with his football teammates for summer practice.
It’s a decision that may have saved the sophomore’s life as nine members of his family died Thursday when a duck boat sank in the Missouri Ozarks.
Coleman learned of the devastating news Friday morning at football practice when his mother arrived at the team meeting.
“You could immediately tell something was wrong,” Frederick Douglass head coach Brian Landis said. “Right at that moment, she called Jayden out and let him know what happened. It’s a feeling you never want to have as a coach, a father, a friend.”
Jayden’s 70-year-old grandfather, Horace Coleman, and 69-year-old grandmother, Belinda Coleman, were among those who died in Thursday’s accident. Landis said Jayden had aunts, uncles and other family members.
Also killed in the accident were Glenn Coleman, 40, Reece Coleman, 9; Evan Coleman, 7; Arya Coleman, 1; Angela Coleman, 45; Maxwell Coleman, 2; Ervin Coleman, 76.
Tia Coleman, 34, and her 13-year-old nephew, Donovan Hall, were the lone survivors from the Coleman family on the boat.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb issued a statement Saturday saying he and his wife “are stunned and heartsick over this tragedy. To lose so many loved ones in an instant is horrifying, and I cannot imagine the depth of pain the Coleman’s friends and family are going through now. I ask my fellow Hoosiers to join me in offering prayers and condolences, especially for the two survivors.”
Later this week, Jayden will travel to Indianapolis for the funerals. Organizations throughout Lexington are helping him get there.
Men’s Wearhouse in Hamburg has tailored a suit for Jayden to wear for funeral services. Enterprise Rent-a-Car has furnished a vehicle for Jayden and his immediate family to travel to Indianapolis. Local churches and family members have also reached out to donate food, Landis said.
Starting Tuesday until the end of July, City Barbeque on Richmond Road will donate 25 percent of customers’ checks to Coleman’s family.
“A woman came in (Sunday) and was picking up food for Jayden and his mom and she told us about this story,” City Barbecue fundraising coordinator Rachel Wright said. “We didn’t know any of the family on the boat tour was in Lexington. We thought it was all out of state. She was in tears and it upset us all, so we decided we should do something to help.”
Customers can donate a portion of their checks by letting a worker know when paying for your meal.
Landis said it speaks volumes about the city of Lexington for organizations and businesses to immediately step in and help when a member of its community is in need.
“For something so tragic like this, there is enough love and enough phenomenal people here that will rally behind you to help,” Landis said. “Whether you’re a Bronco, a General, a Blue Devil or whatever it is you are, people reach out and it says a lot about Lexington.”
Jayden is taking a break from the team, but Landis said his teammates are rallying around him and supporting him in his time of need.
Landis called Jayden his pound-for-pound toughest player on the team.
“He has to move around in the shower to get wet, but he’s as tough as it gets,” Landis said. “The biggest thing about him is how mentally tough he is. For him to be able to handle the adversity he is going through is pretty special.”