Dutch Fork High School honors life of Jack Alkhatib with memorial
IRMO, S.C. (WIS) - Dutch Fork High School in the town of Irmo honored one of their own on Friday night.
Jack Alkhatib, a senior on the perennial powerhouse Dutch Fork Silver Foxes football team, collapsed at practice on Tuesday and later died.
The school, in coordination with Lexington Richland School District 5 officials, held a 30-minute memorial service to pay tribute to Alkhatib. The event on the field included time for reflection and a balloon release.
Friends of Alkhatib told WIS that Friday night’s ceremony brought painful emotions for many, but it’s a step that they think is important toward helping the community heal.
“I hope the balloons just fill the sky tonight,” Bryson Porter, whom Alkhatib helped get on the wrestling team, said ahead of the memorial.
Mo Golden, who played football with Alkhatib, said he’d never met anyone like Alkhatib. He made fast friends with everyone, Golden said.
Golden said he was confident there would be a large turnout on Friday.
“During that time I just know it’s going to be hard for everybody, but when you lose a family member, more come out,” he said. “I know for my friends, especially the football players that were on the field when it happened, I just know it’s going to be hard, especially thinking of somebody like Jack so innocent.”
More should be done to honor the life of this young man, Golden added. He suggests that the Silver Foxes add additional home games this season in his memory.
The Gaffney High School Indians were originally slated to play Dutch Fork on Friday night, but that game was postponed out of respect for the Dutch Fork community.
One group out of Gaffney High School in the Cherokee County School District set up a donation drive for the fallen player’s family and hung a banner at Gaffney football field’s front entrance.
Billy Richards, who runs the Gaffney football booster club, said the news hit home to him. He said though Gaffney and Dutch Fork compete on the field when the games are over they all come from one football family.
Because of this, he helped set up the donation drive, with all proceeds going to Alkhatib’s loved ones. A portion of merchandise sales from Gaffney’s game against Summerville on Friday night will also go to the family, Richards said.
Porter said Alkhatib leaves behind a powerful legacy.
“I definitely think Dutch Fork won’t be the same because he represented Dutch Fork. He just, if there was a way to say he lived perfect, that’s in the way I would put it because he was just a good person.”
The event was open to the public. Due to high community transmission of COVID-19, LR5 officials encouraged all those attending to wear masks.
WIS reached out to the Richland County Coroner’s Office for an update on what caused Alkhatib’s death. The investigation is ongoing, they said.
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