FORT MYERS, Fla.- There will be a public memorial on Thursday at McGregor Baptist Church to honor and remember 11-year-old Jesse Watlington. The Southwest Florida Christian Academy student died over the weekend, days after he was struck by lightning.
"This is a day for fellowship, and talking and sharing and anything that comes to the kids' hearts that they need to talk about," said Pastor Richard Powell.
Jesse's classmates are leaning on each other for support and receiving counseling from pastors across the community. They're also wearing purple, Jesse's favorite color.
"Kids at that age are not wired to handle this. They don't expect to deal this when they wake up in the morning," said Powell.
Classmates in Fort Myers aren't the only ones wearing purple. Thanks to Facebook, people as far away as Japan are remembering him too. On the Pray for Jesse Facebook page, Connie says she's wearing purple in California. Tyler says he's wearing it in Massachusetts and Yolanda wrote she's wearing purple in Mexico!
In a message on Facebook, Jesse's Dad said they're, "...overwhelmed by all the love, support and prayers from people all over the world. We want to thank all of you. Jesse was the sweetest little boy in the world. He loved everybody he ever met and never said a bad word about anyone. Most of all Jesse ... Jesse loved Jesus!"
"They're just coming home and just kind of realizing how overwhelming and how wide the support is for them and it really is a great blessing for them," said Powell.
Thursday's service is open the public. A viewing begins at 11:00 a.m. and the memorial starts at 1:00 p.m. Donations to help the Watlington family can be sent to
"The Jesse Fund" at McGregor Baptist Church on Colonial Boulevard.