Last week there was another school shooting in the U.S., this time at a charter school just south of Denver, Colorado called STEM School Highlands Ranch. Kendrick Castillo, whom many are hailing as a hero for his efforts in subduing the gunman, was murdered saving the lives of his fellow students. The Jeep community learned that Castillo was a Jeep fan, so on Wednesday, CBS Denver reports, that community has planned a special procession in Castillo’s honor.
Take a look at the screenshot above, and you’ll see a young man standing in front of his beloved XJ. It’s a beautiful machine: a Forest Green ‘97 to ‘01-style model with Jeep Wrangler Rubicon JK wheels, a ~4.5-inch lift kit, some LED headlights, and the spare tire mounted to an aftermarket roof-rack. All in all, it’s really tasteful and well done.
Between that image and others like it, it’s clear that Castillo, who lost his life last Tuesday after he “pushed the gunman against a wall” and ultimately helped stop the perpetrator according to NBC’s interview with Castillo’s friend, was a real Jeep fan. And now, to honor one of their own, the Jeep community in Colorado has organized a Jeep procession.
“One of Kendrick’s passions in life was his Jeep,” a CBS host says in the clip above, before another reporter talks with an organizer who received approval for 600 Jeeps to attend Castillo’s memorial procession.
According to CBS’s story, 600 may actually be on the low-end. From the article:
Jeep groups from across the state plan to escort Castillo’s family to a Highlands Ranch church Wednesday where a memorial service will be held for the teen.
“As soon as we heard that Kendrick was a Jeeper, it kind of spread like wildfire throughout the Jeep community,” said Catherine Fanaro, founder of Colorado Jeep Girls.
Catherine said she was able to get approval for 600 Jeepers to participate in the procession. So far, more than 800 said they plan to attend.
It’s a tragic story, and one that pulls at my heart since I also took pictures with my beloved Jeep Cherokee when I was a teenager. But it’s also a story about the kindness of the Jeep community—the almost familial bond between people with a common passion for solid-axle off-road machines. It’s something that we learned before after Hurricane Michael, and something that we’ll continue to learn in the future: the car community is strong.