The Dallas community was heartbroken when they it lost Jasmine Malker, a local woman who was deeply involved in the area and spent her time spreading love and positivity.
Malker died in January at the age of 28 after battling Gorham-Stout Disease, commonly referred to as vanishing bone disease. According to the National Organization of Rare Diseases, the disease means bone loss and swelling of the lymphatic vessels. Much of the disease is still unknown, including exactly how many people it affects.
To honor Malker’s life, Pita Wheel in Dallas has worked with Malker’s mother, Stacey Thomas, to put on an event Saturday, April 15.
The event will last the entire time Pita Wheel is open, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and will include a special for Malker’s favorite dish, the chicken philly pita. There will also be facts about Malker on the chalkboards and pictures of her hung around the walls.
Thomas and Malker’s extended family will be there as well. Thomas said they will have T-shirts and hand towels available for sale with Malker’s motto: “Let me be great.”
Proceeds for the T-shirts and hand towels will go toward a scholarship in Malker’s name through the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Gastonia — the church Malker attended throughout her life. Thomas said some of the money will also go toward the Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast held in Dallas. The breakfast, which was Malker’s idea, was held for the first time this year.
Thomas will continue to hold the breakfast in Malker’s honor in coming years.
Malker was a graduate of the Highland School of Technology, where Thomas said she excelled academically and athletically. She maintained a positive attitude about her disease, which she was diagnosed with when she was 12-years-old.
Because she was ill, Malker often had to miss school for different procedures and hospital visits. Despite this, she worked hard to maintain high grades and graduate on time. In her memory, the Highland School of Technology established the “Jasmine Malker Perseverance Award,” an athletic scholarship for students who show similar drive and positive attitude.
“Jasmine was so smart and she cared about everyone else around her,” Thomas said. “She would be in the hospital and she’d be worried about everyone else.”
After high school, she graduated from UNC Charlotte with a degree in African-American studies. She worked at the Wal-Mart in Gastonia as a pharmacy technician, which her mother said she enjoyed because she was able to interact with so many community members.
According to her mother, Malker spent any extra time outside of work and her doctors visits helping people in the community. She helped tutor students in Gaston County Schools for free and would donate her shoes and clothes to the homeless.
Just a few days before she passed, Malker and Thomas went to Pita Wheel for an outing, which is why Thomas reached out to them to hold the event.
Overall, Thomas is hoping people will be inspired by the way Malker lived and by her faith, which she says never wavered.
“I want people to come out, know her and leave feeling driven to do something,” Thomas said. “Make it your mission to do something to help others.”