RICHMOND, Va. — D’Marco Jackson took his last breath at 2:10 a.m. on April 19, 2016.
News of the 19-year-old’s passing affected not only his many friends and family in Richmond, but also thousands of people around the world who watched a viral video of Jackson delivering an inspirational graduation speech to his classmates — the Hermitage High School Class of 2015.
Jackson, who bravely waged a battle with bone marrow cancer, told classmates, “Do not let the realities of the past or the possibilities of the future negatively affect the peace, joy, and happiness that the present has to offer.”
His speech was later posted online and then shared and viewed tens of thousands of times. News of his passing was the most read story on WTVR.com in 2016.
As 2016 comes to an end, we caught up with Jackson’s mother to ask how her son’s life and untimely death have impacted others both near and far.
Lucet Galarza-Martinez provided an emotional response, parts of which have been edited for readability:
Thank you for allowing me to share my son, his story, and legacy with you all.
My hope is to spread the word so far on how important it is to become a Bone Marrow Donor. I’ve partnered with Dan Gariepy at Be The Match and D’Marco has his own link/URL to register online as well.
I want my son’s story to reach as many people as possible because he wanted to change the world. He said it better himself:
IF YOU AND I PUT AS MUCH EFFORT INTO GAINING KNOWLEDGE AS WE PUT INTO JUDGING THE PEOPLE AROUND US, WE ALL HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE THE WORLD AND SAVE LIVES.
– D’MARCO JACKSON
When asked to do a write-up or speak about my son D’Marco after his passing, is quite a difficult task to ask of a grieving mother.
My son has had, and still has, a tremendous impact on so many people near and far.
Honestly speaking, it’s more than amazing, it’s remarkable to say the least.
How do you put into words how it feels to see the work of your child’s legacy instead of seeing your child in the flesh, his face, and his smile?
My heart is no longer whole and will not be until we meet again.
I am forever changed and forever broken, but blessed abundantly to have been chosen to be D’Marco’s mother.
A true honor to say the least.
D’Marco was “that dude” for so many, but he was my baby, HE IS my papito for always.
Believe it or not, I make it from one day to the next remembering his smile, his memory, and the drive he had to make a difference.
His voice is still being heard through me and the legacy left behind.
D’Marco continues to touch lives every day, regardless of his absence in our world.
Nine (9) Bone Marrow registry drives have been held in D’Marco’s memory and honor since his passing, not to mention the vast amount of individuals who have joined the registry online and in person.
Several hundred people have joined the Be The Match Registry in his honor and by doing so are fulfilling his wish.
I will share something with you that gives me chills, something amazing.
On one of the several drives, held this past October 7 in honor of D’Marco’s birthday, a young man joined Be The Match.
This young man has already been identified as a potential life-saving match and is undergoing further testing.
Think about that, someone’s life possibly will be saved because of my son’s wish for us to continue to initiate, educate, advocate, for people to participate and donate bone marrow as a registered donor.
Another way D’Marco lives on is through the DMAC SNACK ATTACK program I started back in July 2016, along with my very dear friend Jaime Conklin from Hermitage High School.
We deliver snacks and drinks to the ASK childhood cancer clinic at the Children’s Hospital at VCU.
Hundreds of kids undergoing treatment have benefited from these donations of snacks, juices, and water, which are either donated by the community or purchased by us in D’Marco’s loving memory.
Clinic days can be extremely long, so I know how much the DMAC SNACK ATTACK project means to the children and their families.
D’Marco loved all of the kids in that clinic and those kids loved him right back.
His presence is missed, that I know for sure, as I am reminded all the time from the clinic families and children.
When these kids reach for a snack or drink and see D’Marco’s name and message on the snack, they remember him. They smile, share a story, and sometimes a tear… but he lives on through us.
What a Christmas surprise it was to see D’Marco’s story presented by WTVR was the most read and shared story of 2016.
WOW – how amazing is this?!
He is out there.
He is all around us.
His powerful words have touched so many, and I know they will continue to touch many more as his story continues to be told and his words shared.
The DMarco Jackson Memorial Fund is still open at Village Bank of Virginia as these donated funds in this account continue to help with current initiatives such as the DMAC Snack Attack program and many more to come.
Nobody misses D’Marco more than I do, but believe me, I draw strength on the knowledge of how powerful his words and his smile were to so many people.
Knowing how many lives he touched, and continues to touch, means a lot to me, but what means more than anything in this world are the lives that can possibly be saved through my son’s legacy and work I do in honoring his memory and wish to get people registered on the Bone Marrow Registry.
It is overwhelming sometimes, but my son paved the way for me.
He was preparing me for “our” new journey as he called it.
D’Marco was destined for greatness. He achieved more than that in the short 19 years he was here on Earth.
As his mother giving life to a beautiful baby boy on October 7 1996, this was never how I imagined his life would turn out. He lived life to the fullest without any regrets and with that I am truly blessed to know I gave birth to an angel who once walked among us.
My son. My hero. My warrior. He will forever be to me and I will fulfill his every wish to change the world in his honor. I am TeamDMarco4Life forever and always.
D’Marco’s legacy continues for as long as I live, so be on the look out for great things to happen in his memory. For I am My Son’s Keeper!! Love and Miss you more than life D’Marco.