Fourth Of July Race Will Honor Jack Pearsall
By: Christopher Kazarian
This time of year was always a joyous one for the Pearsall family of East Falmouth.
It consisted of mornings on the boat, barbecues at Ada Pearsall’s home on Locust Street and always culminated with children, parents, grandparents, and extended family hopping into the car to watch the annual fireworks display from Surf Drive Beach.
Of all the family members it was Jack Pearsall who was most enthralled with the barrage of colors that would fill the night air. “He loved fireworks in a wicked way,” his mother, Kelly Pearsall, said last week. “He would set them off at home all the time. He was just a nut for them.”
So it was fitting that some of the last images 16-year-old Jack saw were of fireworks being shot off at Mashpee High School last July 1. Just minutes later after leaving that event, Jack was struck by a drunk driver while walking along Old Barnstable Road toward Falmouth with four other friends. Just three days later, on July 4 , Jack died of wounds suffered from that hit-and-run accident.
On the one-year anniversary of his death, his family—father Alvah E. Pearsall, brother Alvah E. Pearsall Jr., sister Samantha J. Mueller and twin brother Charlie—and friends are still coping with that loss.
“It is definitely hard,” Ms. Mueller said yesterday. “This time of year it kind of hits you.”
On Saturday evening, as she and a friend watched the fireworks over Chapoquoit Island in West Falmouth, she was reminded of that void in her life. “It was emotional to be there watching fireworks. Then it was kind of nice,” she said. “That was the last thing Jack did, and I’m sure he loved it and was having fun. They will always remind us of him and something we were really big into.”
I doubt we’ll ever have any big Pearsall 4th of July celebrations anymore. I think it will be a quieter day, and we’ll find time to think about our Jack.
Wednesday will be a little quieter than it has in years past for the family. “I doubt we’ll ever have any big Pearsall 4th of July celebrations anymore,” his mother said. “I think it will be a quieter day, and we’ll find time to think about our Jack.”
Run Jack Run Is Born
Those thoughts will undoubtedly begin to start pouring in around 7:30 AM at Falmouth High School when the family starts welcoming runners participating in the first Run Jack Run, a race/walk being held in Jack Pearsall’s memory.
The 1.2-mile race will begin and end at Jack’s two favorite places—the Fred Toran soccer field at the high school and the soccer fields on Trotting Park Road. When he was a toddler, he started playing soccer, she said, an activity that continued up to his sophomore year of high school when he donned a varsity jersey for the Falmouth team. “Obviously those fields were where some of the happiest days of his life took place,” his mother said.
And the event will incorporate one of Jack’s favorite activities, running, into the mix.
Proceeds from the race will go to benefit Jack’s PACT (Positive Alternatives for Community and Teens) Memorial Fund, which supports everything from academic scholarships to activities, such as local youth soccer clubs and the Falmouth after prom party, for teenagers. The idea is to support things that are positive alternatives to drinking, and drinking and driving, Ms. Mueller said.
Her family has also begun discussions with the Falmouth Prevention Partnership as well as the Falmouth Substance Abuse Commission to come up with ways they can work collaboratively together.
And their larger aim is to lobby the state to toughen drunk driving laws, particularly in those cases when there is a fatality. “In this state you get 2 1/2 years for killing someone. It is pathetic,” Ms. Pearsall said. In February Monica C. Mitchell of Mashpee, whose vehicle struck Jack, was sentenced to two years in the Barnstable County Correctional Facility for her role in his death.
To say that punishment was less than satisfactory for the Pearsall family is an understatement.
Dealing With Loss
To this day Jack’s room remains the same as it was the day that he died, with his unfolded clothes on his unmade bed. “Eventually, I’ll think of something to do in there, but it is kind of painful to go in. Once in a while I’ll go in and have a chat with him,” Ms. Pearsall said. “There’s not too much action in there. It is right on the way to my room and I have to pass it. There’s a spot on the wall that he made one day, he smacked it. So there’s his dirty handprint that will stay there forever. It’s weird, but weird things get you through.”
RUN JACK RUN (1.2-MILE RACE/WALK)
WHEN: Tomorrow, registration begins at 7:30 AM with the race starting at 9 AM.
WHERE: The race begins at Fred Toran Field at Falmouth High School and ends at Trotting Park soccer fields.
COST: $20 for individuals; $60 for families of four or more
As to what kind of person Jack was, his family first mentioned his sense of humor. He was known as a prankster, often preying upon his mom’s fear of snakes by joking that he saw one of the reptiles nearby. “He could get me to believe anything,” Ms. Pearsall said.
Once he placed his twin brother, Charlie, into a milk crate and tied him to a tree at the beginning of the family’s driveway, during a cookout. “They would do weird things like that,” his sister laughed. “He was hilarious, very funny.”
But he also had a serious side, someone classmate Jackson Ryther, 16, called determined. “He was hard-working,” Jackson said. “When he wanted something done, he would do it.”
That drive often shone through both on the soccer field, where his sister said he would not think twice about playing hurt, whether it be with a sprained ankle or broken wrist, and in the family barn, where he and Charlie would spend their summers refurbishing old cars, dirt bikes and mopeds.
Jack’s loss has been particularly hard on his twin brother. “It has been very difficult for Charlie. They were best friends and partners, so it’s been hard for him to separate,” Ms. Pearsall said. “He just misses him like crazy. We all do. Jack was no angel on earth, but he’s an angel now.”
Though the Pearsalls are still coming to grips with the tragedy that occurred one year ago, they have taken some satisfaction in the good that has come from Jack’s death.
Because he was an organ donor, Jack’s heart, lungs, kidneys, tissues, cornea, and other body parts, were used to help others. “We’ve been in touch with them personally. We don’t know their names. They just sent us letters thanking us for that,” Ms. Pearsall said. “That kind of helped hearing their stories about how Jack had saved their lives.”
They have also enjoyed hearing stories about Jack from his friends and the support given to them by the community at large.
And events like tomorrow’s race are also a part of the healing process while helping to ensure that Jack’s memory will live on. “It’s a nice way to do something to take our minds off of what we’re going through and get his friends and the community together,” Ms. Pearsall said. “We are trying to focus on the good, but we sure miss our little guy.”
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