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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA community commemorates Jack Cilek’s life


Friends of Jake Cilek raise candles in a moment of rememberance during an emotional candlelight memorial on the UA Mall on Monday. Around 200 people gathered on the UA Mall to share their memories of Cilek.

At least 200 people gathered in a circle on the UA Mall for a candle ceremony Monday night to commemorate the life of a UA student.

Jack Cilek passed away Sunday after battling cancer, but his life was the focus of the ceremony on Monday night.

The ceremony, coordinated by Delta Sigma Pi fraternity, lasted about an hour and was filled with laughter, tears, hugs and endless stories. The people in attendance were from various groups on campus.

Cilek had been involved in Delta Sigma Pi, one of the business fraternities on campus, as well as Primus Freshman Honorary and SMORES Sophomore Honorary.

The ceremony began with lighting candles and then people sat in silence as others shared their memories and experiences with Cilek.

Mary Page Decker, Cilek’s first cousin, thanked everyone for attending the ceremony and emphasized the need to celebrate Cilek’s life.

“He is obviously a special person who touched all your lives,” Mary Page Decker said, to which everyone in the circle raised their candles.

Mary Page Decker’s husband, Brian Decker, acknowledged the turnout of the ceremony and how many people were in attendance.“I see all of you and it’s truly an inspiring thing,” Brian Decker said.

Sassy and loving were the two common words people used during the ceremony to share their memories and stories of Cilek. Chris Chavez, a political science junior, said Cilek loved everyone and also recalled Cilek’s sass.

“If there’s anything that Jack taught me, it’s to be sassy,” Chavez said. “He loved everyone.”

Lauren Maxwell, a public health junior who had been in SMORES with Cilek, also alluded to his sassiness and said one of her memories of Cilek was him taking pictures of random people, sending them to the GroupMe app and signing off the message as “xoxo Gossip Girl.”

Others shared their memories of Cilek’s zest for life. One crowd member stood up and said “Jack really loved life.”

Danielle Bracamonte, a junior studying communication and sports management, shared her memory of the day Cilek told her he would be going home to get a bone marrow transplant. Bracamonte said the two were about to watch “The Bachelor” that night.

Bracamonte recounted that Cilek had said “Let’s not worry about that. It’s time to judge some hot guys.”

Bracamonte shared her aunt’s belief that picking up a penny off the ground meant a guardian angel was nearby. Bracamonte said she had a dream about Cilek Sunday night, woke up from it and found a penny on the floor and thought of Cilek.

Toward the end of the ceremony, Mary Page Decker said during the last few days, his family sang the song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” by Bob Marley. She then asked the crowd to sing the chorus of the song with her.

The ceremony ended with a girl saying, “To Jack,” as everyone raised their candles in the air.

Lauren Findlow, a marketing senior and president of Delta Sigma Pi, said the fraternity will be doing events in Cilek’s honor. According to Findlow, the fraternity will donate the money raised from its Eller Charity Cup to cancer research in Cilek’s name.

Findlow also said the fraternity will have a Gentle Ben’s Brewing Co. fundraiser night on Nov. 14, and the money raised will be donated to Cilek’s family. The fraternity will also have a scholarship made in his name, Findlow said.

Findlow added that she will remember Cilek by “the light that we will all carry now forever with him.”


Follow Meghan Fernandez on Twitter.

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