In a world full of noise and distractions, moving too fast and not noticing enough, there are occasionally the rare mortals who outshine the others and truly bring about significant change. People who inspire, motivate and teach beyond even the most inspiring among us.
Jack Splitt was one of those people.
The teenager who, despite battling cerebral palsy and debilitating dystonia, was a well known cannabis activist and advocate, and name behind the “Jack’s Law” legislation, has passed away. Jack was infectiously happy, hypnotizing people with his dashing smile and brilliant blue eyes. He captured the hearts and minds of people all over the world, while gracefully and courageously enduring his illness until it overtook him on Wednesday, August 24, 2016.
Jack would have turned 16 on October 5th this year, but in his brief fifteen years on earth, he impacted the world more than most have ever dreamed of or aspired to.
Children no longer have to choose between their education and their medication because of Jack Splitt. His legacy and example of courage will outlive us all.
Definitive party lines, hard-wired mentalities and political side shows did not deter this young man in Colorado who had Representatives and Senators from both sides, standing together, voting together, to legalize medical marijuana for patients in schools.
A historic “standing vote”, on the law that bears his name, “Jack’s Law”, was unanimously approved in the Senate and then signed by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper earlier this year. The law officially allows pediatric cannabis patients to have their medicine administered on school grounds. Jack Splitt saw victory in life on many levels, changing laws and making history was just a part of who he was.
The world is standing still right now for those who both oppose cannabis and those who embrace it, mourning the loss of this amazing young man regardless of where they stand on the plant. People all over the world are remembering the teenager who charmed with his smile even though he could not speak, whose eyes danced even though he could not walk. His sheer will to make the world better, not just his world, but the whole world, makes us all want to be better.
Squabbles have been delayed, debates and discussions regarding cannabis are quieter right now, because the dialogue often turns to Jack and his recent passing. Anyone that discusses cannabis knows the name, Jack Splitt, and is united in mourning with the many who loved and admired him. Grieving for those who no longer get to share his brilliance directly, those whose hearts are the most empty right now and in the days to come.
To those people who knew Jack personally, they knew the strength he had. His crippling cerebral palsy and devastating dystonia were lifelong battles that could have hindered any spirit, slowed any motivation, distracted from any focus, but not for Jack. He was a warrior, he was a leader, and his victory was a battle won for us all.
The world lost more than a courageous young man, more than a devoted advocate, more than a fierce warrior. He was much more than that, he was special, he was one of those that outshined the rest of us. His light shined bright.
Jack Splitt was confined to a wheelchair his entire life, obligated to a ventilator, committed to medical monitors and machines constantly, but nothing stopped his commitment to live life to the fullest, to lead. Jack won the hearts and souls of millions when he and his mother, Stacey, and other families and legislators, fought tirelessly to enact medical marijuana legislation that was logical and compassionate.
This inspiring young man used his computerized speaking device to testify before the House, the Senate and before numerous people, organizations, and businesses. Jack was trying to change the laws to help all pediatric cannabis patients in Colorado, and he succeeded. A victory in legislation when discussing kids and cannabis. It was more than historical, it was monumental.
His life and legacy were celebrated among family, friends and those inspired by Jack in a Celebration of Life service held on September 1, 2016 at the Open Air Chapel in the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield Farms, Littleton, Colorado.
Hundreds of guests attended the early evening ceremony which transitioned through sunset. Following a poetry reading by Jack’s father, Colby Splitt, monarch butterflies were released by he and Jack’s mother, Stacey Linn, and his younger brother, Cooper Splitt. A violinist and guitarist played songs like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and pictures of Jack, his family and friends scrolled across screens as the tears fell and the embraces came.
Colorado State Representative Jonathan Singer welcomed guests, mentioning the honor of knowing Jack and fighting alongside him for change. Rep. Singer said, “… this [Jack’s story] is making waves across the world. People in Washington D.C., advocates, have pictures of Jack sitting on their work desks, reminding them no matter how tough their own lives are today, there is a young man who has been fighting for this, and through this, because it was not only affecting him but hundreds of kids in his own state, thousands of kids across our country, possibly millions across the world.”
Speakers included Jack’s family, grandparents, aunts and uncles, his caregiver, and a few close friends. Senator Chris Holbert and Senator Vicki Marble also shared words about the young man who inspired change and became their friend.
Guests were invited to wear Jack’s favorite things to celebrate his life, Denver Broncos gear, Mickey Mouse and butterflies added to the atmosphere of the beautiful scenery. Balloons decorated the tables and large, wooden letters spelling “JACK” were at the guest book & greeting table which also had green lapel ribbons for guests, representing cerebral palsy awareness.
The sky was as brilliant and magical as the young man’s life being honored. There were moments throughout that made guests “feel” Jack’s presence.
Laughter, tears, and memories shared. Perhaps the most poetic, perfect moment was not the beautiful poem Jack’s father read, or the words from those who admired him. Nor was it the sheer beauty of the ceremony, or the hundreds who came to show their final respects.
Among all the precious, moving moments of the evening, perhaps the most impactful, the most moving came when a lone monarch butterfly landed on Jack’s mother’s hand and remained there, comforting her, letting her know he is flying high now, he is free.
In a world full of noise and distractions, keep it simple. Shine bright. Be like Jack.