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'Jackson’s legacy is everything to us': Fredericton father approaches difficult day with tribute, fundraiser for late son

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A father in Fredericton is approaching a difficult day with a poignant tribute and fundraiser for his late son.

It has been nearly nine years since Jackson Wright was struck and killed by an out-of-control vehicle while playing on his front lawn in Fredericton. He was eight years old.

“Whether it’s the anniversary of the accident, Jackson’s birthday, our birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, those days are very challenging for us,” says father Jeff Wright. “The first few of them, (we) didn’t know how to get through the day to be honest, but we’re practiced at it now.”

Jeff Wright, a self-described numbers and dates guy, says May 1 will be different. He figured out the date’s sombre significance a few months ago.

“Realizing it would’ve been 3,244 days since we lost Jackson,” says Wright. “That’s how many days we had him in our lives.

Jackson Wright is pictured. (Source: Jeff Wright)“Being a numbers and dates guy to a fault, I realized I had to do something, something positive to distract myself.”

On May 1, Jeff Wright will set out for a long hike: 32.44 kilometres, with every 100 metres representing a day with and without Jackson.

People have offered to accompany him on the extended hike, which Wright has politely declined.

“This is really an opportunity to permit myself to think deeply about our time with Jackson, and what he has meant to us now, and what he meant to us many years ago,” says Wright.

The 32.44 kilometre hike is also a fundraiser for the Jackson Wright Youth Fund, and its latest project to purchase new gymnasium bleachers at Fredericton High School.

The school’s bleachers are difficult to move back and forth, and stretches of the steps are either broken or missing.

The gymnasium bleachers at Fredericton High School have become more difficult to move back and forth, with several steps missing. (Nick Moore/CTV Atlantic)“I’m going to be happy to see these get replaced,” says David Carson, the director of athletics at Fredericton High. “It’s not only athletics and our own phys-ed classes that use the gym and use the bleachers, it’s also the school itself for assemblies. We have user groups that use the bleachers.

Roughly $60,000 in fundraising is needed to complete the project, which is also receiving provincial and municipal funding.

Wright says a “$10,000 challenge gift’ from the J.T. Clark Family Foundation, which will be contributed if $50,000 is raised by the fund, has added momentum toward meeting the ultimate $60,000 goal.

“Jackson’s legacy is everything to us,” says Wright. “If furthering his legacy means we can bring people together or support a community initiative or bring awareness to a project, then we are all in. We’ll be forever all in. This city has been so helpful to us and supportive that it just makes a lot of sense for us to continue and build the reach of the Jackson Wright Youth Fund.”

Jeff Wright is hiking 32.44 kilometres on May 1, 2024, in memory of his late son Jackson. The distance and date represent 3,244 days with and without his son. (Nick Moore/CTV Atlantic)Wright is preparing mentally, as much as physically, for the May 1 hike. He plans to make time to reflect on wonderful memories with Jackson alongside what will always be difficult to comprehend.

“It would’ve been this June that he would’ve graduated from Fredericton High School,” says Wright. “That is tremendously hard on the head.”

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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