James Armstrong Sr., the father of Josiah “JoJo” Armstrong, a sixth-grader at Sierra Middle School who passed away last Friday because of liver failure, posted on Facebook a heartfelt message today to his friends and family.
“If I could tell you guys something that he wanted would be for everyone to love each other and show love to others,” James wrote. “And to waste no time in life. Live life to the fullest and enjoy every minute of it.”
Josiah’s loss at such a young age as a promising student and wrestler has affected many in the community, specifically those in the Sunnyside School District.
The Sunnyside High School wrestling program, one of the most dominating dynasties in the nation with 31 state titles in the last 40 years, is honoring Josiah by hanging his shoes in its famed workout room.
The following photo was posted on Facebook with the message, “Josiah (JoJo) Armstrong’s shoes will FOREVER hang as a Blue Devil, inside of the Sunnyside wrestling room!!! #JoJo.”
Terrence Valerani-Knoblich, a Sierra educator and coach, said Josiah’s fellow students are honoring him in various ways.
“The student council at our school is going to paint a mural,” Valerani-Knoblich communicated to me. “Today the students arranged a 10:10 walkout to tie balloons to the fence in honor of JoJo. They then walked around the field together for 12 minutes for JoJo. We will hang a banner below our scoreboard reading ‘#JOJOSTRONG.'”
James Sr. and son James Jr. visited Sierra’s wrestling practice today for the first time since Josiah’s passing. James Jr. is a standout wrestler in the eighth grade at the school.
Members of the surrounding community are stepping up to help the family through this difficult time.
A benefit horseshoe tournament is planned at the El Pueblo Neighborhood Park on Sunday, Feb. 19, with signups starting at 9 a.m. and the games beginning at 10. The fee for single entry is $25 and for a team it is $50.
A Go Fund Me campaign for the Armstrong family is ongoing with more than $8,000 raised to this point.
In an interview two years ago at the Flo Tulsa Nationals, Josiah said about his preparation: “What I really like to do is practice. I like to learn. I like to learn new things. I like to start from scratch.”
“If I do lose, I tell myself to stick with it and say I still got it.”
Asked about his favorite part of wrestling, Josiah said, “My favorite part about wrestling is to be able to socialize with people and get to meet new people from around the country.”
Josiah’s spirit now is touching thousands on the southside, Tucson in general, and in wrestling circles around the nation.
“#JoJoStrong your heart and soul will live on forever my son,” his father wrote.
Funeral arrangements are pending.