|Mt. Carmel hosts Pep Rally…A Prelude to
Jasmine’s Camp The Story of a Hero: Faith,
Focus and Fortitude
|FAMILY SUPPORT—From left: Kara, Dwight and Karen Claggett, Rev Barbara Gunn
seated at the desk. (Photo by Jackie McDonald)
She sprinted through life with a heart full of faith and love. Armed with that same faith and love, she
sprinted into the faithful and loving arms of her Savior.
Jasmine Claggett was an extraordinary young woman whose life is now being celebrated by countless
others who were impacted by her positive spirit, her fun-loving nature and her uncompromising
At the tender age of four, Jasmine lost a kidney to cancer. For Karen and Dwight Claggett, the close-knit
family found themselves facing a struggle they never imagined. But the struggle was bordered with a firm
belief and dependence on God…a treasured gift they passed to their beautiful little girl.
The North Versailles family, which includes Jasmine’s two older sisters,Amber Rowe and Kara Claggett, has
been long-time members of the Mount Carmel Baptist Church, North Versailles. It is here that Jasmine left
a lasting impression, not only within the religious community, but also the community at large.
Her race in life proved to be one of faith and fortitude. In remission for the next 21 years, Jasmine never
faltered in her conviction. Nor did she surrender to the fear that is so prevalent with the continuing battle
against cancer. Armed with her own strength and perseverance, this fearless young woman beat the odds
through the challenges she faced throughout her young life.
|'Jasmine's Camp' in North Versailles to honor woman gone too soon
No one who knew her was ready for Jasmine Claggett to go.
She was too young, they said, too important. She accomplished a lot in her 25 years, they added, but there
was so much more to come.
No one was ready, especially not her mother, Karen Claggett.
“That's my baby,” she said of her youngest daughter. “You don't ever expect your baby to go before you do.”
Jasmine Claggett, a former Make-A-Wish child who overcame cancer at 4 and eventually became a college
track star at West Virginia Wesleyan, died last summer after a second battle with cancer. At the time of her
death, she was the athletic trainer at the Obama Academy of Pittsburgh.
Working with kids suited Jasmine, friends and family said, because she was the type of person who got
people to listen, even without speaking. She commanded attention. She embodied leadership and
perseverance, they said. The kids got that.
“She had one of those assignments from God to show a certain level of character and strength, in spite of her
situation,” said the Rev. Barbara Gunn, pastor at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in North Versailles, her family's
longtime place of worship. “This was a young person who took life seriously.”
Though she is gone, her legacy will live on. Gunn and her family are organizing a summer camp for kids, at
Crestas Field, just up the street from the church. “Jasmine's Camp” will be sports-themed, but more than that,
Gunn said. In addition to playing games, the kids will learn skills aimed at fostering leadership, anger
management and moral development.
The camp will start modestly, with 50 or so kids attending between July 25 and Aug. 5. But organizers hope to
expand the camp in years to come. A fundraiser and pep rally May 20 at the Doubletree Hotel in Monroeville
will hopefully raise the $5,000 to $7,000 needed to put on this year's camp, plus funds for future camps.
When Jasmine's Camp begins, leaders will tell the kids about her remarkable life.
They'll explain that she lost a kidney to cancer at 4 but never let it slow her.
“I remember taking her to Children's (Hospital),” Karen Claggett said. “I'd make it an adventure. I didn't want
her to be scared, so I had this whole ritual of playing music, driving her down there, reading books —
everything to keep her mind off of what was really going on.”
They'll tell the kids that Jasmine had a way of getting people to listen, not because they were forced to, but
because they wanted to.
“I had this neighbor who happened to be an avid hunter, and he was showing me pictures of a deer he shot,”
Dwight Claggett recalled. “He was kind of proud of what he had done. My daughter looked at the pictures, and
she said, ‘Tom, it's not nice to kill God's creatures.' She must have been 8. She wasn't upset about it, just
making a statement. I remember it vividly. She had maturity and insight, as far as being a child of God.”
They'll tell the kids that Jasmine always made her family a priority.
“The times when it was me and her, having fun and laughing — those are the memories I hold near and dear,
and the moments I miss,” Karen Claggett said. “She always had time for me.”
They'll tell them that even as Jasmine neared death, she never complained.
“People who didn't know her wouldn't even realize she was sick,” Dwight Claggett said. “I kept thinking God
would bring her through, but it got to a point where I could see it wasn't God's will. There was nothing more I
They'll show the kids a model of someone who was authentic and true. They'll celebrate her life in public.
In private, they will continue to grieve.
Karen Claggett will struggle every fourth day of any month, because her daughter died on the 4th of June.
She'll walk alone into her daughter's bedroom, which the family has not touched since her passing, and she'll
look at the photos and talk to her daughter.
“She was wanting to find a Christian man and have a family,” Karen Claggett said. “She had faith that she'd
overcome the cancer and it would happen for her. We all thought she'd overcome it.