3-2-1, Chuck your Ducks!
“FYI - the ducks are sold out!!!” was the text that I received around 7:00 pm on February 8th. Rachel, the kids, and I were on our way to the Mandan High gym for the basketball game between Mandan and Dickinson.
Elias was wearing a “Play for Anders” shirt and Linnea had on a blue duck necklace. All in honor of their brother, Anders.
One of the cards that Rachel and I received at Anders’s memorial service in 2019 was a card signed by the Mandan High Student Council. In the card, the Student Council shared a desire to start and fundraise a scholarship to be named after Anders.
What a cool thing for a group of high schoolers, their advisors, and school leadership to do as a way to stand with my family. The Student Council allowed us to determine who the scholarship would be available for. After a few weeks, Rachel and I thought focusing the scholarship on students entering any field as first responders or medical personnel would be the most fitting to honor our son.
It was the persistence of the paramedics that performed CPR on Anders for 40 minutes that got his heart started again.
It was a life flight medic that ‘breathed’ for Anders on his flight to Fargo.
It was a team of primary care nurses and doctors that did all they could for three days to provide the highest level of care possible for our son.
Our life changed greatly during those three days, but we had three more days with Anders because of all of the medical personnel in his story. We had time to sit at Anders’s side in the hospital. We had time to sing songs and read books to him. We had time to pray that God would heal our son.
Every time I think about those three days, I am glad that we had them - I'm glad that he was alive when we got to the hospital.
So it made the most sense to honor the tragic part of our son’s story by awarding a scholarship to someone that is choosing to dedicate their career to such a noble field.
Anders’s picture was on all the windows and walls as we entered the high school and worked our way to the gym. When we all got settled into our spots at the basketball game, it was funny to listen when there were brief pausing in the action on the court.
“Squeak. SQUEAK. squeeeeak” rose all around the gymnasium as people were squeaking their numbered yellow ducks.
My family accompanied the Student Council to center court during halftime as they shared the rules with everyone and thanked the local businesses that donated gift cards for the prize packages.
And then it was time.
“3-2-1, CHUCK YOUR DUCKS!”
The little yellow rubber ducks flew through the air - from a group of students in one corner of the gym, middle schoolers at the end of the basketball court, to parents and other adults in the stands. All of them aiming at a giant, hand-drawn target sitting at center court.
428 ducks were thrown and when the ducks had settled, the three closest to the bullseye all walked away from the basketball game with prize packs to numerous local businesses.
As the gym floor was filled with ducks, I can’t help but connect that to how this journey has gone for my family. Even during those first days when Anders was in the hospital, we’ve been showered with love from people that have been both close to us and far away.
Family and close friends were the first ones to step into our situation - at the hospital in Bismarck, in Fargo and our home when we came back without Anders.
Co-workers, neighbors, and friends from church filled our fridge, freezer, pantry, and closets with meals, snacks, drinks, blankets, and everyday items so we were taken care of.
Texts, phone calls, emails, and cards filled our inboxes and mailboxes with words of sympathy and support.
People drove hours on a Saturday to attend Anders’s funeral - including the Dickinson High School softball team.
And people continue to be there for us. The Student Council has been holding an annual fundraiser for the Anders Jungling Scholarship for the past three years and is already talking about what the fundraiser for year 4 will look like.
One week after the Chuck a Duck event, I had an opportunity to sit down with a reporter from KX News and talk about the scholarship. Any time I get a chance to share our story with others, I say yes. I don’t love that Anders’s story is the only one I get to share about him now, but if someone else benefits or makes safe sleep decisions because they hear Anders’s story, then I think it’s worth it to keep sharing the story.
Watch the KX News clip here:
I want to finish today by saying thank you to everyone that has been walking with us on this journey. Our lives forever changed on January 10th, 2019 - and so many of you were there at that point and continue to be there for us today.
Thank you Mandan High Student Council, thanks Steph for your dedication to this scholarship, for raising money to support a scholarship in Anders’s name.
And thank you to the communities of Mandan and Bismarck, along with people across the state of North Dakota and around the country.
If you've been following me for a while, thank you so much for coming along on this journey with me. If you are new here - welcome! Check out some of my other posts on the site and engage with me on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Subscribe to my newsletter if you haven't done so yet.
Facebook: Mission Anders