It’s sad but true that sometimes tragedy brings a community closer together than anything else every could.
The Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School community has experienced just such an event in recent months, with an accident that resulted in the death of rising junior Jonathan “Jay” Goodman, at age 16, on Aug. 15.
Goodman, a resident of Denmark, was riding four-wheel ATVs with a friend and a cousin on Aug. 13, when an accident left him in Palmetto Health Richland hospital for nearly two days until his passing.
Goodman was an honors student in the top 20 percent of his class, and he was a standout player on the B-E Red Raiders basketball team.
This past Friday, prior to B-E taking the court against Edisto in an early-season contest in Bamberg, the Red Raiders varsity boys basketball team took time to honor the memory of their teammate Goodman with a memory box.
Within the memory case, the displayed items include the following: the retired No. 3 Red Raider jersey Goodman wore on game nights, a remnant from one of Goodman's favorite LSU Tigers t-shirts, Goodman's basketball shoe strings, his school ID badge, an action photo of Goodman that was taken from a 2014 basketball game against Edisto, Goodman's class photo, the web address jay333.com which is a site for anyone desiring to record a memory online, a decal designed by loved ones to fund the "play4jay" scholarship program in memory of Jonathan Nathaniel Goodman, II, a script of Goodman's motto of "Earned, not Given," and a special photo Goodman took from his four-wheeler more than a month before the accident where he had typed "Gateway to Heaven" in text across the photo.
In less than 24 hours, the Bamberg-Ehrhardt community raised more than $7,500 to defray family expenses for the Goodman family, by way of a gofundme.com site called pray4jay.
The community has come together in the wake of this tragedy, and continues to work through the grieving process both collectively and individually.
During the presentation of the memory box on Friday, B-E principal Randall Maxwell said a few things to encourage the fans, friends and family in attendance.
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“We all can easily find joy and contentment in life when things are going our way,” Maxwell said. “However, when we feel the loss of one of our own, the storms strike and shake us to our core.
“Tonight, I celebrate with you the undeniable true character of our students, staff, parents, coaches, athletes and friends within our entire community. While we still grieve the loss of Jay Goodman, I know that Jay would be deeply touched to know the love, prayers and support we have all given to one another in a most heartbreaking and difficult time.”
Maxwell then made sure he reminded the community of who Goodman was as a person.
“Thank each of you for pulling together when most might fall apart,” Maxwell said. “Jay Goodman performed exceptionally well as a student and as an athlete, but more importantly as your friend, your classmate, your teammate, your brother, and your son.
“Jay would want for each one of us to remember him, not with a tear but with a smile.”
Goodman’s smile is now on display, in a memory case, for all to see in the hallway of the Bamberg-Ehrhardt gym. And, with Goodman's father -- Dr. Jonathan M. Goodman II -- still helping coach Red Raiders basketball, memories of Jay are never far from the court where he played the game he loved.
With donations still coming in, plans are for there to be a Jay Goodman scholarship awarded to a senior at the end of this school year.
As the community and school continue to heal, Jay Goodman’s memory lives on to both inspire and encourage everyone to appreciate life and the time they have together.