ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Friends and family are asking for help honoring the memory of 17-year-old Cherry Creek High School student athlete Alex Jansen.
Jansen died Thursday in a car crash caused by heart failure.
“He was such a gift,” his mother, Karyn Jansen told FOX31. “He touched everyone that he met and he was just a bright light.”
Alex's mother, father and sister lovingly describe him as caring and compassionate with a zest for helping others. They say they cherished each day they had with him.
“When he was born, they told us he probably wouldn’t make it through the day,” his father, Scott Jansen said.
Alex was born with a heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) with pulmonary atresia. He required several surgeries but the little boy fought through it all. He lost a portion of his lung but still managed to become a competitive athlete. His favorite sport was baseball.
“He decided he wanted to start playing probably when he was 7,” Scott Jansen said.
That passion led him to play baseball at Cherry Creek High School and on a summer travel league with USA Prime Baseball.
“He was never one to quit and he was never one to let his health issues dictate his life on the baseball field at all,” Alex’s best friend Zach Haines told FOX31.
Their former coach, Scott Halicky said Alex stood out from the rest of the players because of his positive attitude.
“He wasn’t the biggest kid but by far, best swing I’d ever seen,” Haines said.
Following his death, Alex’s family decided they wanted to do something to honor him.
“So we said, 'How about we try to raise a little bit of money and maybe we can help some other kids play a sport that, like many sports, has become fairly expensive?'” Scott Jansen said.
The GoFundMe has since raised more than $27,000.
“I can’t imagine how many kids this money is going to be able to help and to know that it’s in Alex’s name, it means a lot,” Halicky said.
“Honestly the support so far has been amazing and the more amazing we can make it, the more kids we can help,” Scott Jansen said.
While Alex will never be able to take the field again, the fund will ensure that his legacy there will live on.
“I know for a fact that’s what he’d want. Just to have [more kids] have the ability to play the game that he loved,” Haines said.
A celebration of life memorial service for Alex will be held Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2019 at 1 p.m. at Mission Hills Church (620 Southpark Dr., Littleton, CO). The community is invited to attend.