Gardner-Webb Continues to Remember a Beloved Teammate and Friend

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Jalin Lawson Known as a Strong Friend with an Uplifting Personality 

By Mallory Moore ’18, Intern for Communications

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.— A GWU track athlete pursuing a criminal justice degree, known as strong friend with an uplifting personality, passed away in an automobile accident in May just after completing his sophomore year. Jalin Lawson’s life was honored both at his funeral in his hometown of Fort Gaines, Ga., and at a Celebration of Life service held at Gardner-Webb University at the start of the fall semester. Sophomore Amber Freeney stated, “celebrating Jalin’s life means remembering who he was and living the way he would want you to live.”

Lawson was an integral part of the GWU Men’s Track and Field team and brought pride to his coaches and teammates at the Big South Conference Championships in May, shortly before his death. He earned second place in the triple jump, second place in the 100m dash, and third in long jump, breaking some personal and school records in these events. His triumph in the triple jump qualified him for the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Championships.

Lawson’s teammates and coaches remember him not only for his athletic drive and potential, but also for the wonderful personality that he brought to the team. Amy Turlington (’19) recalled his hilarious antics during practice. “He just made practice more fun because he was so encouraging and loved to dance around all the time,” she shared. Ashleigh Cleveland (’18), another track athlete, designed and ordered wristbands for the team over the summer to give them a special reminder of this charismatic athlete.

Eighteen of Lawson’s family members attended the Celebration of Life service at GWU along with the track and field team. His life was celebrated with a tribute video, testimonies from friends, and an original song composed by track member Maya Mallory (’19) called “Song for Jalin.” Mallory stated that her song was “an expression of how his presence was such a blessing.” Lawson was also honored during halftime at the first home football game as his track coaches presented his uniform to his family.

Freeney spoke during the service and stated, “My favorite thing about Jalin was that nothing could separate him from the people and things that he loved. Jalin knew how to build family-like friendships with his teammates and friends. He was an honest, kind, and loving person.”

Dr. Tracy Jessup, vice president for the Office of Christian Life and Service, gave the opening and closing prayers at the service. “One thing that stood out to me from the service, in addition to the remarkable capacity that Jalin had of making people smile, was the inspiration to live every day to the fullest,” Jessup shared.  “I’m reminded of the words of Jesus in John 10:10, ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’”

Located in the North Carolina foothills, Gardner-Webb University is a private, Christian, liberal arts university that prepares students to become critical thinkers, effective leaders and compassionate servants in the global community. Emphasizing a strong student-centered experience and rigorous academics, Gardner-Webb ignites learning and service opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students. Ignite your future at Gardner-Webb.edu.