A beautiful black boy
We grew up together.
Created art together.
with passion fruits of Joy
The juice filled the garden state with an abundance of sweetness
And it made us dance
But never as beautiful as he did
And even through our grief,
We know Spring comes bearing passionfruits
--Mariah Ayscue for Jackson Lightfoot Whitsett
Jackson Lightfoot Whitsett brought joy and light to many. He tragically left us on January 17, 2023 at the age of 27.
Jackson blazed a trail that was uniquely his own, and he gathered a beautiful community of friends along the way. He danced and cheered his way into many hearts. He served as the captain of the Montclair High School Cheerleading team, providing endless entertainment with his game-day antics and enthusiastic performances. His gift for dance and choreography began early in his school career; he was a standout in the Montclair High Dance Company, and he served as a dance and cheerleading instructor at the Montclair YMCA, where he was a beloved Camp at the Lake counselor.
Jackson took his talents to Atlanta in 2013 where he became a competitive cheerleader and cheerleading coach with Stingrays Gym, training the World Championship Grape Team, among many others. He traveled the country choreographing for teams, making countless friends along the way. As much as Jackson loved cheer, it is clear that he loved the community that he built even more. His spirit lives on in all of the littles he coached.
Still 9 years later you were my person I called for all things cheer. You loved my girls and encouraged them so much I could never thank you enough. I will never forget you carrying little baby girl to awards and holding her the entire time while she was passed out asleep. You are the reason and the start of their love for cheer, my girls loved you so much!!!
Jackson's greatest gift to the world was inspiring others to love and unapologetically celebrate their unique identity. He co-founded the Gay/Straight Alliance (now known as the Gender and Sexuality Alliance) at Glenfield and drew people into a world that championed love and acceptance. To honor his extraordinary life and light, donations to the JLWMF will support the ongoing work of Glenfield's Gender and Sexuality Alliance. Jackson would flash that big, bright smile knowing that the club he started now serves a growing group of teens who are following the trail he blazed years ago.