Chicago girl, 9, dies of meningitis

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Family and classmates share grief and sorrow after a 9-year-old Desire Jackson, a student at the Morton School of Excellence in Humboldt Park, died of meningitis Wednesday.

Teachers at the school had a special name for Desire.

"Chicago sassy is how we described her. A kid who had the sass, but was super friendly, nice, entertaining," said Ryan Trauger, gym teacher and soccer coach.

As Desire spent the last several days in the hospital fighting meningitis Jennifer Strattman, her teacher for three years, sat by her bedside.

"I was mostly there to support the family. There wasn't a whole lot I could do for Desire. I was mostly there to be with her mom and sister," Strattman said.

Desire lost her fight against meningitis Wednesday.

"I saw it on my wife's phone, about the little girl passing away," said Richard Johnson, grandparent of a Morton School of Excellence student.

Thursday afternoon young children poured out of the school with papers in hand explaining her sudden death. The strain of meningitis she was infected with is not contagious, doctors said.

"I need to be informed. It's good to be informed as quick as they did," Johnson said.

Desire was just a week away from receiving a soccer award.

"We have our award ceremony next week and she is going to be our most improved player," Trauger said.

Desire's death has left a hole in the school bigger than her 9-year-old personality.

"There wasn't another fourth grader like her," Stratmann said.

Trauger has started a GoFundMe page to raise money to help the family pay for funeral expenses and travel related to Desire's death.
Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.