Hamilton Southeastern High School will hold the fourth annual Jake Fest from noon to 3 p.m. May 6 at the HSE Football field to celebrate the life of Jake Willmann.
“He was incredibly unique,” said Maggie Hammond, resource teacher at HSE. “Jake had Moebius syndrome and autism. Jake’s Moebius syndrome caused physical difficulties which prohibited him from smiling, blinking or speaking. Jake utilized facilitated communication. That is a form of typing that requires someone else to hold Jake’s hand while he types. Holding his hand would ground Jake so that he would be able to get a sense of space.”
Willman died in 2014. His family wants to celebrate his life.
“Jake was always so inspirational,” Hammond said. “He had a great sense of humor and always had so much to say. Because Jake was such a big part of the community, we decided to host this community event to honor Jake. We have established a scholarship in his name which is given to a Best Buddies member every year. A buddy or peer can apply for the scholarship their senior year as long as they are continuing their education in some format.”
Best Buddies is dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The free event includes games, food, activities, music, silent auction and raffle.
“We always have grilled food, walking tacos and ice cream,” Hammond said. “Our events include a dunk tank (and) a donut-eating contest. Mix 105 will be out to DJ. We have inflatables for kids, face painting and caricatures.”
The event focuses on abilities rather than disabilities.
“It’s open for anyone of all ages and abilities. It’s really cool because Jake was known by most of the community. He lived the life of a rock star,” Hammond said.
The event is free. For more, visit facebook.com/HSEJakeFest/.