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Community Response: Standing With Us and For Us

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Miranda Lopez

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Palm+Desert+High+School+sends+balloon+arrangement+to+Xavier.
Palm Desert High School sends balloon arrangement to Xavier.

Palm Desert High School sends balloon arrangement to Xavier.

Miranda Lopez

Miranda Lopez

Palm Desert High School sends balloon arrangement to Xavier.

Palm Desert High School sends poster with uplifting messages.

On September 29th, three of our very own Xavier College Prep students were involved in a roll-over car accident, on Avenue 42 in Indio. The three affected were Kai Killebrew (‘20), Jaylen Rushin (‘21), and Matthew Shupp (‘22). Matthew and Kai were taken in an ambulance, and Jaylen was airlifted to a local hospital. The Xavier community immediately responded to the news by posting prayers to show their support through social media.

The Xavier College Prep community reacted by opening up the Prayer Service during the Freshmen retreat, hosting Jay’s Birthday Celebration and Prayer Service, and writing letters in-class for the boys and their families. The morning after the accident, students gathered in the Hanson House, at the Desert Regional Medical Center to show their support. The following week, there were “Pray For Us” shirts being sold at the varsity football game on October 5th. All the proceeds went directly to the families of the boys.

The greater Coachella Valley community was also devastated, and several schools all around the Valley demonstrated their empathy and solidarity with Xavier. Palm Desert High School sent a white, yellow, red, black and gold balloon arrangement and a poster filled with thoughtful messages to show their support, which read, “To the Saints family, Today we stand with you. -The Aztec Family”. Desert Christian Academy sent over a poster that was full of uplifting messages, came to the school to pray and also brought doughnuts for the fellowship that followed. At that moment, Xavier and DCA students stood together. Angelo Fitzgerald, a Coachella Valley student-athlete, showed his sympathy through social media by writing the boys’ names on his wrists during the football game. During the varsity football game, Rancho Mirage gave a placard which read, “In the first-ever varsity football contest between our schools, the Rancho Mirage High School Athletic community stands with Xavier College Prep High School as they support their students, staff, and community in this time of tragedy. We are with you.”

Beyond the Xavier and Coachella Valley community, Verbum Dei High School sent a letter from their campus ministry. The letter read, “Xavier Prep Community, Please know that our Verb family is holding Matt, Kai, and Jaylen in our prayers, as well as their families and the Xavier Prep Community. May healing, comfort, and support be found in God’s strength and loving embrace. In Prayer, Verbum Dei High School”.  This letter demonstrates the impact it had on a fellow Jesuit High School and their response to standing in solidarity with the Xavier Community.

Through social media, the public was able to spread the news, and send prayers to the families. It was through social media outlets such as Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and VSCO that many students were informed of the accident. Many Xavier students, athletes, coaches and staff reacted to the news, via social media. It was another way to stay updated on prayer services, events, and the boys’ well-being. A GoFundMe was created to aid Jaylen’s medical bills, and accumulated over $21,000 in 24 hours.

In that moment of tragedy, the entire Coachella Valley and beyond truly became one. It demonstrated how much love and hope there is in the Valley. Through the kind words of others, prayers, donations, and services, the community grew not only closer but stronger.

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About the Contributor
Miranda Lopez, Writer

I am a senior at Xavier College Prep, and I am head athletic trainer and football manager. I am passionate about art and photography. I hope to attend the USC School of Architecture. I was born in the Federal District of Mexico City and have lived in California for 13 years.

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