TOMAH, Wis. (WKBT) - A community tradition in honor of a Tomah high schooler who died is touching lives around the world.
Seventeen-year-old Jesse Parker died in a car crash in the summer of 2009.
His parents Bradley and Jennifer said it was his dream to become an engineer and dig clean water wells in Africa.
Every year since, the Remembering Jesse Parker races at the Tomah high school have been raising money for local organizations and efforts to bring clean water to Africa.
This year is the eighth annual event, and Jesse's parents said it's only grown every year, with runners supporting the cause across the country and the world.
"I think (Jesse) would say thank you. I think he would say, it means so much that his dream lives on through the efforts of so many others. And for us, that's all we could really ask for, for any life, that his life mattered and is making a difference,” Jennifer Parker said.
The Parkers said to date, the Remembering Jesse Parker Organization has been able to provide clean water to more than 100,000 people
Family friend Deb Cota-Farmer said the race means Jesse is always in their lives.
“It's one way to express what Jesse’s all about. He loved people. He always had a smile. He cared for people. He was always giving, and that's something every time I see his face, it makes me smile,” she said. “He was just a young man taken too early, because he had a lot to give to this world. He's still doing it but in a different way.”
About 800 people attended today's event in Tomah.
To donate to Remembering Jesse Parker, you can head to this website.
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