About 50 people paid to gather in the White Pine High School gymnasium on April 2 for an hour long “Zumbathon” to raise money in memory of a local student who recently died.
White Pine junior Jason Heath Nelson, 17, died in a car accident in October. His mother Mary Valencia, along with Bethann Kane, founded the LivelikeJason Foundation to raise scholarship money for White Pine High students. $500 scholarships will be awarded to two graduating seniors who have focused on academics and extra-curricular activities.
“I wasn’t expecting this many people,” Valencia said.
“Jason was the most fun-loving, giving, smiling kid,” Kane said. “He fed homeless people. He clothed them. He wanted to bring them home.”
Valencia recalled the school talent show when her son, at 6-feet, 3-inches tall, rode a unicycle dressed in a clown costume while assembling balloon animals. Jason’s friends painted his parking spot with a picture of Shaggy from the Scooby-Doo television cartoon which was his nickname. A photo collage showed Jason playing soccer, holding a baby and hanging out with his friends. He also ran track and played basketball and golf.
“He wanted to go to UNLV and be a firefighter,” Valencia said.