Note: Amber Johnson is an employee of Rocky Mountain Student Media.
Jessica Dillon, known as Jessi to family and friends, lived her life with purpose and shined it on others.
Dillon, 20, health and exercise sciences sophomore at CSU, died Sunday May 4 after participating in the Boulder spring half marathon.
“Jessi lived for Jesus,” said Emily Reeder, sophomore biological sciences major, who met Dillon in high school. “Whether you believe in God or not, the love that you felt when you were around her and the genuine peace that you felt was not of her, it was of God.”
Her friends described her as being a hilarious, loyal, honest, dedicated and faithful person who loved Jesus and her family.
“Jessica was a young woman blessed with a quick wit, sweet smile, and contagious laughter that will long be remembered,” her family wrote in a statement to the Collegian.
Amber Johnson, a sophomore journalism student, ran in the half marathon with Dillon.
“I’m going to miss running with her,” said Johnson. “We could talk about super deep stuff on the run or we could just run and not talk. It meant so much to both of us.”
Johnson attended first through eighth grade with Dillon, and the two became friends again while attending CSU. They went to the same church and weekly Bible study and were running buddies.
“She basically invited me into her life again and because of her I know Jesus and have a relationship with him,” Johnson said.
Dillon’s friends said that she was really easy to get along with and open up to.
“She was the type of person that it didn’t take a lot to get comfortable with her. It was really easy to share deep things with her,” said Reni Ogle, veterinary medicine junior, who met Dillon through a mutual friend and attended the same Bible study.
“It was because of her giggle,” said Michelle Pallagi, health and human sciences freshman, who was also in the Bible study group with Dillon.
Her friends recalled stories of Dillon’s humor, and said that they had especially fond memories from a backpacking trip that they went on in Utah over spring break. Reeder also recalled practical jokes that Dillon liked to do to make people laugh.
“You could guarantee that something would be switched on your phone or she would know when you had class and she would call you and leave the most ridiculous voicemails ever,” Reeder said.
Along with her goofy and mischievous humor, Dillon’s friends all agreed that she brought joy everywhere she went.
“She had so much joy and love and she didn’t hold any of it back,” Ogle said. “It didn’t matter how long you were with her or how well you knew her, you felt that.”
Dillon was also very committed to excelling in school. According to Ogle, she always had a job even if she didn’t need one.
“She was super smart, super involved and dedicated to her schoolwork,” Pallagi said.
According to her friends, her attitude is reflected in her favorite Bible verse, Colossians 3:23, which reads, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for humans.”
Reeder met Dillon during her freshman year of high school in an honors biology class, where the two grew close as lab partners.
“Whenever we would hang out together we wouldn’t have to do anything but be put in a room with each other and just fed off one another,” Reeder said. “Those are just good experiences no matter what happened.”
They continued to be close when they both decided to attend CSU. Reeder said that she will miss Dillon deeply, but is comforted by her faith.
“God blessed me with her and with her friendship. I was very angry with Him at first for taking my best friend away from me but I have to realize that God’s ways are not our ways,” Reeder said.
Reeder explained that she has taken comfort in being close with Dillon family and being able to share memories of her.
“I am just going to miss being able to have my best friend,” Reeder said. “I have to learn how to live life without my best friend anymore. That is just something that I don’t think that anyone should have to experience.”
Above all, her friends want people to know that Dillon was selfless and that she lived her life for Jesus.
“She was herself no matter what group of people she was with, no matter who she was in front of. She never tried to impress anyone; she was just always herself no matter what,” Reeder said.
In a statement released to the Collegian, Dillon’s family wrote, “Jessica lived a life consistent with her strong Christian faith and will forevermore remain in the loving presence of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Although Jessica’s life on earth was tragically short, her legacy will live on in the hearts of many.”
Her friends agreed that she would continue to impact those who knew her.
“I know she touched the lives she needed to touch, hopefully she will touch more lives now that she has passed,” Reeder said.
Johnson said that she is comforted because she knows that she will see Dillon again.
“It’s hard to say goodbye, but it’s not goodbye forever,” Johnson said.
Collegian Reporter Maddie Buxton can be reached at email@example.com.