Rather than spend all their time and energy focusing on the loss, some of Rumble’s friends decided to start an organization that would continue the passion he had for helping young people achieve their goals.
The Raider Rumble Foundation was started earlier this year to provide students from Rumble’s high school alma mater, Cleveland High School, with the opportunity to attend college through scholarships.
“He was very funny, very tenderhearted,” said Leslie McKaig, director of the Raider Rumble Foundation. “He was really just a giving person.”
Jessica Wolfenden, a board member of the foundation, agreed. She said he was the type who would stop and ask what he could do to help if he saw a total stranger crying. He was always concerned about others, she said.
Rumble was also known for his athletic prowess, playing both football and basketball before he graduated from Cleveland High in 2001. He later went on to study at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business. He was very committed to his wife, family and friends, McKaig said. He also volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Chattanooga, an organization that pairs adult mentors with children.
One night, Rumble stopped breathing in his sleep as a complication of sleep apnea. He was rushed to a local hospital, but doctors found he was already brain dead, McKaig said.
Rumble’s widow, Jenny, recently found out that she is pregnant with his child — months after his passing. Jenny is expecting a son, and Wolfenden said that has given the foundation’s board members even more motivation to succeed. The hope is that Rumble’s son will get to see how his dad’s legacy has lived on after he died even though he will never have met him.
“Jason was very family-oriented. He would have been thrilled to find out [about the baby],” Wolfenden said. “We want his son to see one day how big of an impact he made.”
The Raider Rumble Foundation’s board members are still collecting donations for the scholarship fund, and requirements for scholarship recipients are still being discussed. However, Wolfenden and McKaig both said it would likely be for students who exemplify the kind of life Rumble lived, one that consists of both achieveing and helping others achieve.
“Most scholarships are for sports or specific skills,” McKaig said. “This is for that well-rounded person — like Jason.”
The foundation will have its very first “kickoff” event at the Old Woolen Mill on Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. Though the event does take place the night before Thanksgiving, the foundation chose that date because it is close to what would have been Rumble’s 30th birthday. Tickets are being sold for $25 per person or $40 per couple, and McKaig said the event will serve as the first of many to raise money to fund the scholarships.
Anyone who wants to learn more about the foundation can call 423-716-1565 or email email@example.com.