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Hundreds attend prayer vigil for Jacob MacDonald
Sept. 22, 2017

Editor's note: An email was sent to Dassel-Cokato School District staff the afternoon of Friday, Sept. 22 stating that Jacob had passed away. Jacob's mother told school officials that Jacob went peacefully and did not suffer.

Nan Royce
Staff Writer

HOWARD LAKE – Jacob MacDonald is routinely described as a “good kid.”

Jacob lives in Howard Lake, and goes to high school in the Dassel-Cokato School District, where he’s a sophomore, and a three-season athlete, currently wearing football jersey 34 for the Chargers.

Jacob suffered a mighty set-back the evening of Sept. 16.

Jacob experienced an allergic reaction severe enough that he was eventually airlifted to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis. He was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit after experiencing related cardiac and lung issues, according to his mother, Bonni Marcus Halverson’s Facebook post Sept. 17.

Jacob’s communities were quick to react. Dassel-Cokato School Superintendent Jeff Powers authorized students to take a school bus to visit Jacob in the hospital Sept. 18.

Powers said Jacob’s football coaches made him aware of the severity of Jacob’s situation, which led to his decision.

“We decided that it would be safer to take a bus than to have so many distraught kids drive themselves,” Powers said. “Fortunately, we were able to free up a bus and a driver.”

Jacob and his family had many visitors that day, for which they were thankful. Late evening, Sept. 18, Halverson posted to Facebook again.

“Words cannot express the unbelievable amount of support we have gotten from our families, friends, schools, football and wrestling teams and the surrounding communities! If love alone would change this painful situation, we would of been home a long time ago,” she wrote.

She also asked people to keep praying for Jacob.

Sept. 19, family friend Danielle Shank awoke with an idea. She reached out to another family friend to ask if there might be any interest in a prayer vigil for Jacob. The pair both thought the idea had merit, and Shank contacted DC Schools to see if the district would be OK with such an event.

“Once I confirmed the school was honored to allow us the use of the football field, it was game time,” Shank said. “It was time to spread the word.”

Shank indicated that the Reverend Tony Stubeda, from Holy Trinity Catholic Church of Winsted reached out to her.

“We coordinated the plan,” Shank said. “At that point, all of Jacob’s angels came together and started sharing the message (about the vigil) via Facebook, Snapchat, and in school.”

The message was received. Sept. 19 evening, hundreds of people converged on the Dassel-Cokato High School football field to pray and sing together for Jacob.

Shank briefly spoke at the beginning of the vigil, welcoming and thanking those in attendance.

Stubeda led the group through singing the first two verses of “Amazing Grace.”

Biblical passages, including Isaiah 43:1-9, Psalm 121; and Matthew 11:25-30, were read.

There was a time for silent prayer and reflection, followed by a group recitation of The Lord’s Prayer.

As candles were lit and began to flicker against the night sky, the participants sang “This Little Light of Mine.”

Prayers of Petition were offered, and a blessing given.

The vigil ended with the assemblage singing the final two verses of “Amazing Grace.” The fourth verse of the familiar hymn appeared to impact the crowd the most.

The hymn’s fourth verse’s words are, “Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come. ‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”

The leaders of the vigil encouraged the attendees to linger and talk and pray with each other, to celebrate Jacob. The majority did.

Roger and Janet Keskey don’t know Jacob or his family, but felt moved to come to the vigil.

“Prayer is powerful,” Roger asserted. “Our hearts go out to this family.”

Jon Ring, a DC High School math teacher, had Jacob as a student in class last year. “You can’t help but like him,” Ring said. “He’s an ‘all-in’ kind of kid.”

Ring recalled that during homecoming festivities the previous week, Jacob was certainly all in for color day.

“He came in completely in blue,” Ring said, adding that Jacob’s ensemble that day included a blue tutu. “Now,” he said, “we need to pray for a miracle.”

Shank quietly chatted near the field’s parking lot after the vigil, and felt grateful.

“I’m thrilled with the turnout,” she said. “I know that Bonni and the family feel blessed and loved, which is what inspired me in the first place.”

Late evening, Sept. 20, Halverson stated via Facebook Messenger, “Jacob had an MRI today, and it wasn’t the answers we were hoping for, still waiting for the swelling to go down, and for things to turn around! It’s day-by-day at this time. So we are praying for a miracle.”

Halverson also indicated her family’s gratitude for all the concern, support and prayers received from home.

“It feels good knowing how many hearts Jacob has touched,” Halverson stated. “We love him so much and continue to pray!”

A Go Fund Me Page to assist Jacob’s family with medical expenses has been established.

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