CHICAGO (WLS) -- Jaden Blake's mother said he was a thriving 20-year-old, a sophomore at Grand Valley State University in Michigan and a stellar pole vaulter.
But he was more than an athlete; he was also a social activist and an avid blood donor.
"De LaSalle, where he went to high school, did a blood drive," his mother Yvonne Blake recalled. "And they let the kids out of class to donate. They gave them snacks, and then they told them all of the different ways one unit of blood could help so many people. Jaden, being a kind of a science geek, he was like, 'OK I'm down for this. This is my calling.'"
But in November, right before the holidays, Jaden was in a car accident that landed him in the hospital for more than a week.
"In that last week Jaden required more than 60 units of blood products. And we were just fortunate blood was there," Blake said.
Jaden fought for as long as he could, but ultimately succumbed to his injuries. Now his mother has vowed to keep his legacy alive.
"People knew him so they were asking what could we do, and we started saying please just do donate," she said.
She started a non-profit in his name, the Jaden Sebastian Blake Foundation. A month after his death, Blake hosted a blood drive in his memory with the help of a friend.
"His mother's request to us was to give that blood back, and at the very minimum I can make that happen," said family friend Kia Horton. "No one knows that they're gonna need, until they need it."
Now Yvonne is dedicating her time to spreading awareness about blood donations.
"We know that people in our community care. We know that people in our community are as able as anyone else to do whatever it is that they wanna do. And Jaden's life is a testament to that, like he's gone and people are still donating his honor," she said.
Blake said more than 70 people signed up to give blood at the CSO Multiplex in Hyde Park Wednesday.
She said her son was also an organ donor and she hopes to encourage more Black people to do the same.
If you'd like to give the gift of life this holiday season, click here to sign up for the Great Chicago Blood Drive. The two day event is scheduled for January 11 and 12.