CHEROKEE, Oklahoma - Inside Chief Auto Body in the small community of Cherokee a casket was being prepared for paint Monday evening. 

Soon, at no cost, it will be coated in red and black—15-year-old Junior Kirk’s favorite colors. Last week without warning, Junior took his own life. The loss for his family is indescribable. 

“It’s a nightmare,” his mother, Johana Kirk said. “I keep wanting to wake up. I tell myself everyday, ‘OK, I’m going to wake up and everything is going to be OK.’ It’s not.”

Junior was a star athlete and exemplary student at Cherokee Schools. He was loved unconditionally by so many.

“If you’re feeling down at all, talk to somebody,” his mother said. “Even if it’s just a friend, reach out. Don’t do what he did.”

Junior’s parents hope no other family has to go through this. Their message is to never be afraid to ask for help, to hug your children, your friends, and be sure they know how much you love them. 

Since Junior’s passing, people have come the family’s aide from every corner. Businesses have offered their services for free and residents have donated. 

Junior’s best friend, Lake Lyon, put out a call for help in building the casket. Dozens of kids responded.

“Everyone wanted to be there and help,” Lyon said. “And after we built it, everyone came and signed inside the casket.”

“What these kids are doing — it means the world,” his mother said. “Because my baby is going to be wrapped in something his friends gave him. They’ll always be a part of him and him them now.”

Services for Junior will be Saturday, February 3 at 10 a.m. at the Cherokee High School Auditorium. His family would love if everyone would wear red and black. 

Anyone who would like to donate, the family asked that they be made to the Cherokee Athletic Department.