“Life is precious….” We hear it all the time, and it is true, life is indeed precious. We have all heard this simple idea, most particularly when there has been a tragic loss, and we try to remember it, to keep it in mind, but as the days go by, as the routines of daily life and our everyday tasks flow from one day to the next, we tend to forget. We forget until tragedy strikes again, and then in that moment we are reminded that nothing else matters but life. We remember again that life is precious. All wars and controversy fade in importance, and everything seems frivolous other than choosing to live and love… for we see again that the continuation of life is fleeting and fragile, and often seems completely out of our hands.
It is with great sadness that we gather for the public memorial of Ja Hooker Williams. With each tragic and unnecessary loss of life on our roads we all experience the same emotions: sadness, frustration, and a deeper commitment to the safety of the vulnerable on our roads. When it is someone you know, one of your own, the memories flood in all at once and you find yourself seeing their face in every child at the festival, in line for coffee, or walking down the street. The anonymity of the stranger’s death is gone. The words “failure” and “give up” fly into the inbox of one’s mind and shake the soul of even the best advocacy organizations. But the memories of a happy life, the smiles of a happy child, a loving brother and committed friend radiate and revive the purpose of a lifelong commitment and fuel the passion to continue on and never give up.
The tears we shed at VeloFest for our friend and veloteer, Ja, will be for the life he will never see. The smiles we have are from the memories of the heart and playfulness of a young boy from Colorado who loved life and his family. But through those tears, the determination we feel to pursue safer roads for all is clearer than ever before.
Ja’s family has suggested that friends and relatives donate to VeloFest. We are humbled by, and very much appreciate, this gesture, and we vow to use every dollar as carefully as possible to do the most good we can. We at VeloFest invite each and every person affected by this latest tragedy to join us in some small way, to volunteer as he did. Whether it is taking the time to discuss crossing the street with your child, adding an app to your phone to answer your text messages for you, or helping fit helmets on children this summer — if we stand together in the memory of Ja, if we remember his efforts and care — his life may live on in some small way. VeloFest will not rest until our communities’ streets and sidewalks are safely interconnected for everyone.
Rest in peace, Ja, rest in peace.
Ja Williams-Hooker Public Memorial
Wednesday April 6, 6pm-9pm, St. Augustine Amphitheatre
Click here for more info from his family.