ROCKTON, Ill. (WTVO) — The parents of Jack Baumann are trying to move forward after the 4-year-old was run over by a car in the parking lot of his first soccer game last year.
“It was his first game, and he was super excited to play,” said his mother, Valerie.
Jack was known as the happiest goalie in his Pre-K soccer league, she said. “He jumped at being a goalie. People called him ‘Smiling Jack.'”
One of the last photos of Jack was taken only minutes before he was accidentally run over in the parking lot of the Beloit Sports Center, on October 1st, 2022.
“It plays hundreds of times a day. It’s an image that you’ll never forget,” Valerie said.
The Beloit Police Department said Jack was wearing cleats and walking in the parking lot when he slipped and fell, out of the line of sight of the driver.
Police said the driver was not speeding or distracted.
Jack was taken to a nearby hospital but died. He was only days away from his fifth birthday.
“The anger comes and goes,” Valerie said. “There was no one there that didn’t try everything.”
His parents hope to turn the love they received from the Rockton community, in the form of an outpouring of emotional support, into the Jack Baumann Foundation, which will help fund tuition for some Pre-K programs and offer support for other grieving parents.
“When you lose a child, that love has to go somewhere. We’ve chosen to put our love into this organization,” Valerie said.
Valerie and her husband, Brandon, hope Jack’s contagious smile and sweet demeanor will be felt by others.
“We hope that even though we can’t impact his life anymore, we can impact someone else’s,” she said.
The family is holding a fundraiser Tuesday night at the Beloit Culver’s, at 2676 Cranston Road, from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m.
Proceeds will go to the memorial and Prairie Hill Elementary Angel Fund, which pays off students’ unpaid school lunch balances.