ELKHART — Kristyana Jackson, 7, had a “beautiful spirit,” said the family, friends and supporters who honored her memory Monday evening at a vigil marking the one-year anniversary of her death.
Several dozen people gathered beneath the large oak trees outside the Jackson family’s home at 720 Kilbourn St. on Monday, Aug. 19.
Kristyana died Aug. 19, 2012, two days after she was shot in the head during an assault outside her home.
The case is still under investigation.
Jermaine Sanders, an Elkhart firefighter and pastor of The Ol Rugged Fellowship Church, offered a prayer for Kristyana’s family and for protection for the children of Elkhart.
Kimi and John Jackson, Kristyana’s parents, thanked the community for their support over the past year.
“This is unbelievable,” said Kristyana’s father, John Jackson, looking at the crowd. “People care and they’re showing it right here.”
Jeanette Barhams Dancler and Kenneth Barhams of Elkhart attended the vigil to support the Jacksons because they understand the pain of losing a child.
Barhams Dancler said Kimi Jackson reached out to her after her son, Braxton Barhams, 16, was killed in a drive-by shooting in June.
Barhams Dancler said she and Jackson speak regularly and Jackson “helps me through my bad days.”
“I couldn’t imagine (what it was like to lose a child) until it happened to me,” she said.
Rachell Clifford, 8, said her friend Kristyana “was so kind and always honest with me.”
“One day at school she said we could go on a bike ride together, but we could never go,” Clifford said, her eyes welling up with tears. “I miss her. We used to play on the swings all the time.”
After remarks from the Jackson family, the crowd moved out into the intersection of Kilbourn and Myrtle streets holding an assortment of balloons.
Kimi Jackson stood in the center of the crowd and lit a purple lantern. When she released it into the sky, the crowd released their balloons, which followed the lantern upward.