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DANVILLE – The hundreds of people who attended the celebration of the life of 25-year-old Jelani Jesse Javontae on Saturday are a testament to the love the aspiring physician and his family have in the community.

The four-hour service was held in the auditorium of Danville High School, where Day graduated in 2014. He will continue his education, graduating in 2018 with a BA in Communication Science and Disorders from Alabama. A&M University in Huntsville, Alabama, and was pursuing a master’s degree in speech-language pathology at Illinois State University at Normal. His goal was to get a doctorate.

Many college friends and associates have called Day an inspiration to others on campus. To honor his memory, representatives from the National Alumni Association of Alabama A&M University, 100 Black Men of Greater Huntsville, Black Speech-Language Pathology Association, and the Omega Psi Phi fraternity and the House Arrest 2 dance team, of which Day was member. at A&M, presented resolutions and statements to the Day family.

There were uplifting moments during the Return Home Service with gospel songs sung by a celebratory choir, heartwarming words spoken by several ministers, and stories from family and friends that exemplified the caring nature and the Day’s sense of humor. “We miss Jelani and care about him. He was smart, kind, compassionate and loved his family,” said Day’s mother Carmen Bolden Day. “Jelani has made peace and he has accepted God, and I know he is in Heaven.”

“Thank you, my God, for him,” said Day’s grandmother, Gloria Bolden. “He took care of his father and then he would come and take out my garbage.

“I am honored to be his grandmother,” she said. “We never hung up the phone without saying ‘I love you’.”

A poignant story was told by Paul DeArmond, a childhood classmate of Day since kindergarten.

“He’s always been nice to me. He went to college to help people like me,” DeArmond said. “He wanted to become a speech therapist because of me.”

DeArmond shared that Day came to him in a dream last week and that Day smiled at him, which comforted him.

“I will always remember what a good friend he was to me,” DeArmond said. “He will always be in my heart.

Bolden Day explained, “People teased Paul at school and Jelani stood up for him. Jelani loved him.”

During the service, family members and friends also expressed their sadness and determination to uncover the truth behind Day’s mysterious death.

Day went missing on August 24 after being seen under video surveillance that morning at the ISU Student Center and then, about an hour and a half later, at a Bloomington business. His car was discovered in a wooded area of ​​a park in Peru, Illinois on August 26, and his body was discovered along the Illinois River on September 4. A month after Day’s disappearance, the LaSalle County coroner’s office was finally identified. the body like Day’s. Bolden Day thanked God for his five children, adding “they are the best part of me”. Jelani was her fourth child and youngest son.

“He was the loudest and he was arguing with you up and down,” she said.

Day’s skillful debates and his role as protector for his siblings and cousins ​​were characteristics many family members mentioned during the service.

“Jelani was my protector, but Jelani made me hard, Jelani made me strong because he said maybe he wasn’t always there,” said his younger sister, Zena Day, in tears. “I want to say thank you to Jelani for being a big brother and making me laugh the loudest.”

Cousin Emani Davis called Day a “big brother and protector all in one.”

After telling a story about how Day would find the diaries and diaries of her older sister Dacara Bolden, no matter where she hid them, Bolden read aloud her diary entry from the day before in which she said it was she had missed her brother’s bear hugs and Facetime calls.

“I feel lost, heartbroken and disappointed you,” Bolden said. “You always wanted to protect me, but I always wanted to protect you, and I’m so sorry this time I couldn’t.”

Day’s older brother Seve said, “He trusted him everywhere he went, and that’s why everyone loved him.”

Because of this self-confidence, Day’s mother spoke out against any idea that her son would kill himself.

“My son fought to the end,” she said. “He would never have allowed anyone to do anything to him without a fight.

“My son would never do anything to himself,” Bolden Day said. “He would never have driven 100 kilometers, hid his car in the woods and removed the license plates.

“He would never go to a river he didn’t know to strip down,” she said. “No one is going to jump in the water if you can swim – which he did – to end your life.

“Whoever you are who did this, I want you to know your time will come,” she vowed.

This sentiment was echoed by many family members and friends.

“God sees you and he knows,” Day’s aunt Terri Davis said, adding a warning about her sister, Carmen,

“You don’t know who you’re kidding with. She’s a fighter, and she won’t let that go.”

“For those who have done this, it’s far from over,” said Emone Davis. “We demand justice for my cousin.”

“We might not know exactly what happened, but we have some ideas,” Seve Day said. “But whoever did this to my little brother, I swear to God I’m coming for you.

“Pray for my family,” he added. “Pray for us as we embark on this journey.”

Bolden Day called on everyone to help and pray for his family as they seek justice for his son.

“We need all of you to help us,” she said. “After today the struggle continues.”


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