Everyday Hero: Jackson Rendleman

Updated: Jan. 27, 2019 at 10:13 PM CST
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COBDEN, IL (KFVS) - At just 12 years old, Jackson Rendleman’s capacity to be a true friend has been tested.

“He’s gone thru pretty much the worst, biggest test of a friendship there is,” said Rendleman’s mother, Jessica Wills.

When a devastating car wreck left his best friend, Kohen Moore, hospitalized for months, Jackson showed the community that friendship isn’t just something you promise in good times; you have to deliver on that promise – even when times are tough.

“The front of the car was under the semi,” said Gyl Moore, Kohen Moore’s mother. “He (Kohen) was unconscious from the start.”

A trip to Paducah to do some back to school shopping for the Moore’s ended abruptly when their car was hit by a semi-truck.

“It was really scary because we didn’t even know if he was going to pull through,” said Wills.

Through it all, Rendleman stayed by his best friend’s side, just as he had since the first day the boys met.

“Whenever I got to kindergarten,” said Rendleman. “Like the first day.”

In the seven years since their first day of Kindergarten, Rendleman and Kohen Moore have done everything little boys can do together. They ride their bikes, splash in the creek, play sports, and celebrated every birthday together – until the crash in August.

This year, Rendleman had to blow out his candles without his best friend at his side. His birthday wish was that Kohen would get better and come back to school

Rendleman’s birthday was just a couple weeks after the crash, and Kohen’s future was still very uncertain.

“We were in Cardinal Glennon for 20 days and he wasn’t really waking up,” said Gyl Moore. “When Jackson came for his birthday – the first time just days before he started opening his left eye. And that day was the first day he had both of them open, and he couldn’t talk, but he had them open the whole time Jackson was there.”

“He was staring at Jackson. He was keeping his eyes open,” said Wells. “It made us very hopeful. And although it was scary for Jackson, it was reassuring for him that he was going to come back.”

“He got back on his feet and wanted to help,” said Rendleman’s grandmother Cheryl Rhine. “He started thinking - what can I do to help my friend?”

Rendleman got to work raising money for Kohen’s recovery. He and his mom first sold T-shirts raising $1000, and later helped to sell signs as part of another fundraiser sponsored by a local print shop.

“They say pray without ceasing #KohenStrong,” said Rendleman.

Rendleman even helped out at fundraisers at local restaurants.

“I said thank you for supporting my friend Kohen Moore,” said Rendleman.

During baseball season, Kohen’s unworn jersey traveled with Rendleman and the team. When his team won the big game – Rendleman’s thoughts went straight to his friend.

“After we won regionals, I’d always been thinking about Kohen and I asked if we could keep the game ball and sign it for my friend Kohen who is in the hospital,” said Rendleman.

Kohen returned to school in late November, but he had limitations. He couldn’t walk to the cafeteria in another building to eat lunch with his classmates.

Rendleman didn’t want his friend to eat alone. So, every day he walks across campus, waits in the lunch line to get his food, and hurries back.

“I run out the doors,” said Rendleman. “I just want to quickly then come back here to hang out with Kohen.”

Now, everyday at lunchtime the boys share a meal and a laugh together.

“They just picked up where they left off,” said Wills. "Through this, I think Jackson has really learned what it actually means to be a friend."

If you would like to support Kohen Moore's continued recovery, you can donate to the Kohen Strong effort at Anna State Bank.

If you know someone who should be recognized as an Everyday Hero, click here to make your nomination.

We’ll profile an Everyday Hero each month on Heartland News.

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