An Alabama father is honoring his late daughter in a huge way.
This week, parent Jeremy Smith surprised 111 second-graders at G.W. Trenholm Primary School in Tuscumbia with a field trip to SkyZone in memory of his daughter Jaleia, according to station WHNT.
The young girl celebrated her 8th birthday at the indoor trampoline park in September but died just three weeks later after her family was involved in a car crash.
Smith figured there was no better way to honor Jaleia’s memory than by inviting her schoolmates to partake in her all-time favorite activity. Aside from ending the school year on a high note, the grieving dad said he also wanted to show his appreciation to the students and teachers.
“Everything they helped me through with my daughter’s situation; all the support they gave me,” Smith told WHNT. “So, I just wanted to thank G.W. Trenholm for being there with me through my sorrows.”
Principal Veronica Bayles told Atlanta Black Star this was her first time dealing with the tragic loss of a student and said it was important to her that the school community was there to offer Jaleia’s family support.
“As a principal, I felt like it was my job to support Jeremy and his family during this time of grief but here he was comforting us!,” Bayles said in an email. “I think his act of kindness showed my 2nd graders that even though they will always feel the loss of Jaleia, they can also treasure the precious memories. This will help us all begin to heal.”
For Smith, the field trip was nothing short of bittersweet.
“I’m not going to say it’s tough, I’m going to say I just wish my daughter could have been here with [her classmates],” he said. “This is one of her places that she loved to come to.”
This sentiment was echoed by one of Jaleia’s classmates, who said it was tough having fun because her friend wasn’t there.
“We try to have as much fun as we can, but sometimes we can’t have as much fun as we would have if she was here,” Mia Awwad told the station.
Since Jaleia’s passing, her classmates have retired her student number at school, planted a tree in her honor, and written messages of love on a chalkboard.
Watch more in the video below.