He survived the Virginia Beach shooting. Now he’s fundraising for the Red Cross to give back.

Jack Jones, ‘21, has raised $6000 for the Red Cross.

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He survived the Virginia Beach shooting. Now he’s fundraising for the Red Cross to give back.

Jack Jones, ‘21, said he’s grateful to the Washington and Lee community for its support.
Photo by Kaelan McCabe, ‘21.

Jack Jones, ‘21, said he’s grateful to the Washington and Lee community for its support. Photo by Kaelan McCabe, ‘21.

Jack Jones, ‘21, said he’s grateful to the Washington and Lee community for its support. Photo by Kaelan McCabe, ‘21.

Jack Jones, ‘21, said he’s grateful to the Washington and Lee community for its support. Photo by Kaelan McCabe, ‘21.

Elizabeth Bell

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Jack Jones, ‘21, was interning at the Virginia Beach Department of Public Works and Real Estate when a gunman entered the building on May 31 and killed 12 people, including his coworker and boss.

“I’m sitting there, typing away with one headphone in and I hear a bang,” Jones said. “It sounded kind of like a nail gun going off inside, because if you shoot a gun unsuppressed inside it echoes, but he had a suppressor on the end of his gun.”

When Jones peeked his head outside the office, he saw the shooter standing with his arm drawn out and realized that his coworker had been shot.

“I lost it and ran,” he said. “There were a bunch of people sitting at a reception desk and there were five or six people just chatting there when I ran out. I ran into one of them and I yelled ‘gun,’ ‘shooter.’ They all screamed and ran out with me.”

“I’m very thankful that I ran out and got out,” he said.

The next morning, Jones attended a citywide debrief meeting for anyone who worked at the municipal center. They connected the survivors with therapists and workers from the Red Cross.

“That’s when I met a contact from the Red Cross who called me later that day and said, ‘If you want, I can send a team over to your house and they can talk to you and your family about how to handle this and how to move on emotionally,’” Jones said.

Jones knew he wanted to find a way to give back to the Red Cross after the instrumental role he said the organization played in his recovery. That is why he created the Red Cross egg toss, a fundraiser which has raised nearly $6000 so far.

“I can’t even really describe the impact they had on my recovery, my parents’ recovery and my younger siblings’ recovery,” Jones said. “They were amazing.”

Nearly 50 people have participated by posting videos on social media and 100 people have donated online. Jones has received statewide media attention for organizing the challenge. Those who are interested can donate to the Red Cross egg toss’s page on crowdrise.com.

“The whole idea is that you get a friend to drop an egg on your head and film it and post it with #redcrosseggtoss and get three more people to do it,” Jones said.

A week after the shooting, Jones returned to his internship at a different building and worked with his coworkers who also survived the mass shooting.

“I spent the rest of the summer working from another building, doing therapy and taking medication,” he said. “People need to take care of themselves mentally.”

Jones said he believes people his age are more intentional about destigmatizing mental health issues than previous generations.

“I’m now on anti-anxiety medication and antidepressants,” Jones said. “I think that’s had a crazy impact on my life and my ability to maintain a sense of normalcy.”

It’s now seen as a responsibility to take care of yourself, he said.

“Honestly, therapy is probably something I should have been doing before this,” Jones said. “You go and get physical check-ups even when you’re not sick, you should probably go and see a therapist every once in a while, even when you’re not feeling down.”

Jones also credits the Washington and Lee community with helping him in his recovery.

“It is kind of crazy the amount of people who have reached out to me, you know, professors in classes I haven’t had, friends of friends of friends,” he said. “That’s been incredible and I very much appreciate W&L’s community. I don’t know what I’d be doing without y’all.

“I have this thing I’ve got to carry with me, but I’ve also got the best support system in the world,” Jones said.

To learn more about the Red Cross Egg Toss, visit Jones’ crowdrise page.

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