BRAINTREE, MA (FOX Carolina) - Jake Parker lived an extraordinary life.
Despite living with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, the fourteen year old had a passion for living, for traveling, and for rooting for his favorite sports teams.
Growing up in Braintree, Massachusetts, Jake was surrounded by great professional sports teams. His father, Giles says he witnessed ten championships in his lifetime alone!
But, what about a college team?
His dad and mom, Michelle, both attended University of Mary Washington- a public arts school in Virginia. But, Jake wanted to find a new team to root for.
One day, Jake decided to tune into a Miami versus Clemson football game. His dad said he thinks his son initially was rooting for Miami, but that quickly changed after the Tigers took the win 58-0.
“First, they blew out Miami. They also had an incredible quarterback running all around the field in these super cool orange and white uniforms,” said Giles.
That quarterback was now-NFL star, DeShaun Watson.
And just like that, Jake became a Tigers fan. Despite living nearly 1,000 miles away, he quickly became all things Clemson.
“What started out as a passion for one player and one team, turned into a love for everything about the school,” his dad said.
In 2017, the Tigers found themselves headed to the National Championship in Tampa, Florida. The Parkers were determined to get Jake there.
Giles set up a GoFundMe account, and they soon raised $4,975- more than enough to get the family to Florida. Any money left over was donated to the organization Coach to Cure MD.
Jake and his family attended various Clemson games, from baseball to football. Their blood now runs orange and purple. In the summer of 2018, his father said they traveled to the university to tour the campus, touch Howard’s Rock and visit the new football facility.
On Sunday, April 7, Jake passed away suddenly.
His death was announced on a Facebook page called ‘Jake’s Journey’ - which was dedicated to updating his friends, family and followers about his life.
“He did not suffer, and an amazing team did all that they could to save him,” the post said.
Now, to honor Jake’s life - and love for Clemson - his dad has set up another GoFundMe. This time, to fund a scholarship for Braintree High School students bound for Jake's favorite university.
In three days, 212 people had already donated. $17,845 of the $35,000 goal raised to help kick-start The Jake Parker Clemson Scholarship Fund.
Though his life was short, Jake lived it to the fullest. Donning their Clemson orange, the Parkers traveled as much as they could. They met other Tiger fans, athletes, and coaches on their journeys.
Jake’s story made it overseas, to other countries. His journey’s Facebook page is filled with photos from people around the world holding shamrock cutouts used to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Giles Parker said their son, Calvin, once asked of the Clemson community, “Are these the nicest people in the world?”
“I can confirm, yes. Yes they are, and I’m glad that Jake will inspire more Braintree students to discover that with his Scholarship fund,” Giles said.
Jake Parker lived an extraordinary life.
And through his memory, so will others.