Katherine Jackson accepted a diploma from Thornton Fractional North High School on behalf of her deceased son Aaron Dunigan, who was killed in a car accident the night of his prom.
Dressed in full cap and gown, Jackson courageously walked the stage as parents, staff and students showered her with applause. “He knows his mom never walked the stage,” she said. “I’m going to be his legs and he’s going to be my wings, and we’re going to go up there and get our diploma,” she said.
At the ceremony, Dunigan was remembered as a talented quarterback for the school who had aspirations of attending Southern Illinois University in the fall.
Dunigan’s death was caused when the vehicle he was riding in as a passenger collided head-on with a pickup truck just hours after prom.
The 18-year-old driver, Dunigan’s classmate, has since been charged with a DUI causing death and reckless homicide with a motor vehicle.
“My son has left a piece of himself inside all of them,” Katherine said to reporters as she hugged friends and classmates of Dunigan. “Every time I hug one of them, I get a little piece of my baby back.”