UPDATE: Family remembers Christopher ‘CJ’ Gordon
CJ's mom speaks out about his life and memory
Story update from March 27, 2022:
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – It’s been six months since the tragic passing of 15-year-old Christopher ‘CJ’ Gordon, the first Fayette County Public Schools student to die from COVID-19. But his family is making sure his memory lives on.
“CJ was amazing,” says his mom, Renita Wright.
On September 23rd, Wright lost one of her children to the virus that’s taken so many lives since 2020. Wright says CJ was the youngest, her “big baby”, but she says he was also her partner-in-crime.
“I am blessed and I’m proud to be CJ’s mom, just to know him,” says Wright.
Wright and CJ both had COVID at the same time. She says on September 11th, CJ took a turn for the worse and had to be hospitalized. CJ fought for 12 days in the hospital before the virus took him. His parents were by his side.
“I remember telling CJ how much I loved him and I’ll always love him, he’s going to always be my baby, nothing will ever change,” says Wright. “Then one time I told him, ‘yes, I want you to fight but baby if you feel like you can’t and if you can’t do it no more, then you hold onto God, you hold on and we’re still going to love you, we’re going to be here’.”
Wright says CJ was a kid with big dreams of being in the NFL, that he was a hard worker who could do anything he set his mind to.
“He had two things he wanted to do this year, because we had talked about it,” says Wright. “He wanted to get his driver’s permit and he wanted to build his own computer from scratch.”
Though he hated pictures, Wright says CJ was always smiling and laughing, and had a huge heart for others. His kindness is what Wright wants everyone to remember about him, with plans to honor his giving spirit every fall.
“A back-to-school backpacks and supplies for children,” says Wright. “I don’t know how much I’m going to start off with this year, but it’s something I want to do every single year. I do know that the first one I will have is going to be ‘CJ’s FIRST Annual Backpack and Supplies’.”
Story update from September 27, 2021:
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Information regarding the funeral for Christopher “CJ” Gordon Jr. is now available.
Hawkins Taylor Funeral home will be handling the services on Oct. 2.
CJ’s visitation will be at FaithPointe at 549 Parkside Drive in Lexington from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The funeral will follow from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Story update from September 26, 2021:
GEORGETOWN, Ky. (WTVQ) – It was a tournament of remembrance Sunday afternoon as the life of Christopher “CJ” Gordon, a 15-year-old FCPS student who tragically died last week after battling COVID-19, was celebrated at a cornhole tournament in Georgetown. While the family is appreciative of the outpouring of love and support, they are requesting privacy going forward.
“CJ was a great kid,” says Robb Lang, a fmaily friend and organizer of the cornhole tournament. “It just feels really good to know that we can give and, you know, on the aspect of we know at this point their hearts are really really heavy and we know that we’re doing what we can to be there.”
Family and friends gathered at the Tipsy Cow Bar for a cornhole tournament to raise money for the Gordon family. Though not everyone participating knew CJ personally, the close-knit bond of the cornhole community brought out teams from all over central Kentucky.
“Cornhole, like I said, it starts as a game and it ends as a family,” says Lang.
Lang says 100% of the proceeds from Sunday’s tournament are going directly to CJ’s parents to be used in any way they need.
“This is just something the group does together to help the family,” says family friend and cornhole player Jodie Hall.
“When we hear of something like this happening, it usually is quickly put together to help whatever family is in need,” says Brandi McDevitt, also a family friend and cornhole player.
Despite the tragedy surrounding the tournament, cornhole players describe the atmosphere as being uplifting and say while it is unimaginable the pain his family is feeling, the game of cornhole can bring people together even in difficult times.
“When it comes to being able to help a family, that’s where it comes first and through cornhole it makes it simple,” says Lang. “Once you get in there and you meet all these people, you’re going to walk away knowing these people as friends and family.”
Story update from September 24, 2021:
GEORGETOWN, Ky. (WTVQ) – A cornhole tournament is scheduled for Sunday, September 26, 2021, at the Tipsy Cow Bar in Georgetown to raise money for the family of Christopher “C.J.” Gordon, Junior.
The 15-year old sophomore from The Learning Center in Lexington became the first student in the Fayette County Public School system to die from COVID-19, according to the school district. He lost his battle against the virus on Thursday.
Family friend Ronnie Ruppee organized the fundraiser for Sunday. The bar says proceeds will go to the Gordon family.
Cornhole tournament participants must be 21 years old or older to participate. The entry fee is $15.
Registration is set for 2:00 p.m. with the tournament to get underway at 2:30 p.m.
The bar is located at 401 Outlet Center Drive #165 in Georgetown.
A separate GoFundMe has been set up to help pay for funeral expenses.
Original story below from September 23, 2021:
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ/Press Release) – A 15-year-old Fayette County student has died due to COVID-19, as confirmed by a statement from Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Demetrus Liggins.
Christopher “CJ” Gordon Jr. was a sophomore at The Learning Center.
“We were heartbroken to learn that Christopher “CJ” Gordon Jr., died this morning,” Liggins said. “He was a kind, thoughtful young man with a bright future ahead of him, and we join his family in mourning his tragic death.”
“I cannot say enough good things about how our staff stepped up today to wrap our students in love and care,” Liggins said. “CJ was a beloved member of the TLC family and our FCPS community, and he will be missed.”
Grief counselors from across the district were at The Learning Center to support students and staff as they found out about Gordon’s passing. Additional counselors will be available as long as students need the support.
He’d been in the UK Medical Center since Sept. 12. His mother also had COVID but was not hospitalized.
In the statement, the community remembers CJ as “a sweetheart who was a friend to everyone and went out of his way to bring joy to others. He cared about school and worked hard in class – always putting forth his best effort and making the most of every opportunity to learn.”
“CJ brought kindness, compassion, and laughter into our lives, lifting up those around him with a supportive word or a playful gesture,” said Learning Center Principal Chris Salyers. “Here at The Learning Center, our promise to one another is to ‘do right by people.’ CJ embodied this core commitment every day and shone as an example for our community, state, and nation to live up to.”
Gordon had a love for gaming, anime and photography.
English teacher Eric Little said CJ was “a smart, sweet kid who made my classroom a better place,” and Spanish teacher Walter Leszczynski fondly recalled CJ’s smile.
“The last time I saw him he was laughing,” Leszczynski said. “I’ll always remember that laugh.”