PRAIRIE GROVE -- Prairie Grove athletic director was eating lunch when classmates and former teammates of his late son, Jarren, approached him.
The boys wanted to know if Joey and his wife Donna, who works as a Speech Language Pathologist at Prairie Grove Schools, would represent Jarren as part of the parents recognized on senior night.
Prior to his passing on Aug. 11, 2016 after battling Sarcoma, Jarren played basketball and baseball for Prairie Grove in junior high and at the pee wee levels.
"Hey, we really want y'all to be a part of this ceremony Friday night," the seniors told Joey, who needed a moment to compose himself, feeling overwhelmed by the gesture.
"Whew, OK, let us really think about it," Joey answered.
He and Donna knew the answer immediately when the couple discussed the request.
"It's unreal. We knew tonight was going to be rough," Joey Sorters said. "Yeah, we got to."
"They wanted it and I don't know the word, heartwarming ... or just grateful that they were still wanting him to be a part," Joey Sorters said.
Donna Sorters appreciates the variety of ways Jarren has been remembered.
"One thing I want people to know is the kindness and love they continue to show to us is what gets us through the hard days," Donna Sorters said. "The fact that some of the senior boys' moms took the time to make a poster for Jarren on a day they were celebrating their own son, that his teammates remembered him in wearing the older jerseys they have with a patch for him on it and even wore the socks they wore the year he was in treatment - it's those types of things that gets us through these hard days, just knowing Jarren is remembered by his friends and classmates.
Luke Mitchell said including Jarren in the senior night ceremony meant a lot. Mitchell knew Jarren really well and said he was a really good kid.
"He was a stud athlete. He was really outgoing, he was friends with everyone. He was just a great influence on our lives," Mitchell said.
Noah Akey agreed, saying Jarren's impact was felt throughout the class both in the athletic arena and classroom.
"Super smart guy, super athletic guy," Akey said. "He knew every sports question that was ever asked. That was just something that I really looked up to."
Akey and Jarren were in Gifted and Talented program. Akey drew from that experience joining the A.C.E. Team competing in sports category.
"He was the starting point-guard and I was the backup point-guard so he was always someone that I looked up to because I wanted to be as good as him and even though he was shorter than me he was still a stud athlete," Akey said. "His basketball IQ, football IQ, was just phenomenal what the guy could do."
"I just love what this community does for him," Akey said. "We honor him every single day and not a day goes by that nobody in this high school forgets him. He'll always be here and for years to come, we'll still remember him."
Joey Sorters nearly tears up while embracing the sense of community Prairie Grove embodies.
"The community support and the love they had for our son, it never ends and it's humbling that they would recognize him again," Joey Sorters said. "His friends and his teammates want to remember him one more time. There're no words, honestly. You can't say enough about this community and the way they support and take care of their own."
According to Joey Sorters, the Play4Jarren Foundation, which he and Donna founded to raise funds for families dealing with similar situations, has several fundraising events planned. Among those are: a cornhole tournament with shop-with-a-cop in April, the spring break Jarren Sorters Memorial baseball tournament hosted by the Prairie Grove High School varsity and JV teams, travel ball tournament in the summer.
"Any way that we can raise some money and help families that are in this same boat, that's what we're trying to do," Joey Sorters said.
Like her husband, Joey, Donna Sorters struggled to capture the moment in words.
"I can't even put into words how much that meant to us, just the fact that they remember Jarren and they wanted him to be able to be a part of tonight. There are no words to express how much that means to me, to our family," Donna Sorters said. "One of the biggest things that I've realized after losing a child is that you want to make sure that people remember him and when his friends come and they're like, 'hey, let me see that picture one more time?' And then you just kind of get to relive it because he didn't start Kindergarten here so they didn't know him in Kindergarten. He didn't come to Prairie Grove until second grade. He was in Hot Springs in Kindergarten so just talk to the people, who were his friends and say, 'that was his Kindergarten picture.'"
Donna's advice for families dealing with the loss of a child is simple.
"The most important thing is one day at a time," Donna Sorters said. "For me, I can't think a week away, I can't think six months away, I can't think years away, just one day at a time. Just God give me enough to get through today. One breath, one day at a time."Sports on 02/13/2019
Print Headline: Classmates Remember Jarren Sorters