Two loving parents, six siblings and myriads of others whose lives were touched by CJ will miss this dynamic young man with a knack for making friends.
The morning of March 15th started wonderfully.
11-year-old CJ Udall awoke in a sleeping bag next to his dad in a tent pitched in his front yard. He spent the previous night around a campfire with his fellow 11-year-old Scouts. He had just finished earning his first merit badge: the disability awareness merit badge. CJ loved being with his friends and fellow scouts.
Shortly after breakfast on Saturday, CJ disappeared. As children like him with Down Syndrome are prone to do, he went exploring. CJ’s family and fellow scouts immediately went looking for him. The search became frantic when he was not found quickly.
Those searching spread beyond the family’s property onto the nearby Power Road and neighboring shopping centers.
The police were called and responded immediately on the ground and in the air.
Then, CJ’s older brother and close friend, Ben, found the family dog in the canal near the family’s property. CJ and his dog were inseparable. Family members rushed to Ben’s side scouring along the dirt path along the canal desperate to see if they could spot CJ in the water.
Soon CJ’s footprints and the dog’s paw prints were found in the mud in a hole in the fence near the canal. Displaced soil was spotted along the banks of the water where it appeared someone had slid down into the water.
The worst now appeared to be reality. Young, innocent, energetic, loving CJ was likely in the water.
Police kept family from jumping or diving into the water to search for CJ. They instead deployed the trained dive team who methodically made their way through the water until they found our beloved CJ.
His lifeless body was removed from the water and placed in a nearby ambulance. The doors to the ambulance were eventually opened to allow his parents to see their precious son.
His hair was perfect. His facial expression was one of peace. His hand was placed in his mother’s hand. And his parents held their boy for the last time in this life.
Before they left CJ’s side, they offered a prayer to their Heavenly Father and thanked Him for allowing them the gift of raising this special young man.
CJ’s family has chosen to focus on his lasting legacy of happiness, innocence, friendship to any and all, and his unique gift of uniting everyone he met.
They are confident he has returned to his Heavenly Father and the grandpa who was his namesake, Carvel Jackson.
CJ's family wishes to remember him through projects benefiting the organizations that so enriched his life. To contribute to CJ's legecy, please donate generously by clicking the button below.