Family honors son with blood drives in Black communities through 'Jaden Sebastian Blake Foundation'

ByMark Rivera and Poinesha Barnes WLS logo
Wednesday, January 10, 2024
Family honors late son with blood drives in Black communities
ABC7 spoke with parents who are keeping the memory of their son alive by hosting blood drives in his name. He died after a car crash last year.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago's blood supply is critically low right now, which means someone's life may be in danger.

The Red Cross says there is an emergency need for donors, because blood is leaving hospitals faster than it's coming in.

When there isn't enough blood, it makes it harder for health care workers to provide life-saving care.

ABC7 spoke to a couple who suffered a major loss, but used the pain to push forward and help others.

"My first thought after we lost Jay was how do we keep his memory alive?" said Milton Brown.

Yvonne Blake Brown and Milton Brown lost their son, Jaden, to a car accident last year.

"During the brief illness, he needed several surgeries and massive amounts of blood," Yvonne said. "And honestly, he was cleaning out the blood bank."

That is what led Jaden's parent to realizing how powerful blood donations could be. Now, since his passing, the parents work to keep his memory alive by hosting drives in his honor.

"When Jay entered the room, it's kind of like, hey, you kind of lifted you know, and he brought that same energy back," Milton said. "Jay was very multifaceted. He was an athlete. He was an excellent student. But he also he was a social activist and so I wanted to make sure that we make sure that all of Jay was remembered."

His parents say Jaden was a superb student, athlete, an activist and he loved community service. In fact, giving blood was one the primary ways he chose to give back.

"He explained to me that he could save three lives with one donation," Yvonne said. "And if you know Jaden, this was extremely important. Not only did he get credit for community service by saving these three lives and being a hero, he also didn't have to go to class for that period. And he got snacks, girl he was sold."

The couple has hosted more than 15 drives in Jaden's name, many of them in primarily Black communities.

"Our blood matters," Yvonne said. "Donate, it's just a prick. When you tell people the why, how important it is, and who's helped by it. I mean, it's a simple prick. People, come out and do it."

They aim to make sure blood drives are in predominately Black communities, so that access is not a problem. They even team up with historically-Black organizations like Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity incorporated. They've even joined forces with Jack and Jill of America.

"I think he would have been impressed that we decided to take up something like this in his honor," Yvonne said. "And that's really how it started, one blood drive at a time."

Jaden's parents say they plan to continue elevating Jaden's legacy through The Jaden Sebastian Blake Foundation.

If you'd like to give blood, click here to find out more about ABC7 Chicago's Great Chicago Blood Drive in conjunction with the American Red Cross.

The Great Chicago Blood Drive is scheduled for January 17th and 18th at six locations across the area.