Jamari Johns’ Day Began As Fresh Air Children Left Riverbank State Park To Visit Volunteer Host Families

July 25, 2023

Jamari Johns, 19-year-old Fresh Air alum, was killed last August while riding his bike in New York City.

From the age of 7, Jamari, who grew up in Washington Heights.

Visited the family of volunteer hosts Gina Perini and Peter Benedict in Westford, Massachusetts, and the families formed a strong bond of friendship.

On July 24, 2023, a group of friends and loved ones joined Fresh Air children at their departure from Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park to honor Jamari’s memory including Victoria Brooks, Jamari’s mother, and Fresh Air hosts Gina and Peter. They created gift bags for the children and had the opportunity to talk to New York City families.


A special fundraising campaign has been created in honor of Jamari with a goal set at $30,000 to support the Fresh Air trips of the 10 young people who left on July 24th, the day before Jamari’s birthday. With the help of friends and supporters, Gina has achieved the goal and is continuing fundraising efforts to support the trips of more children this summer.

Gina said, “My family had the joy of knowing and loving Jamari starting in the summer of 2010, when he was 7 years old, and he was unbelievably brave! My sons, Luke and Owen, became fast friends with Jamari thanks to this special program that matches children from New York City with friends in the country so that we can have adventures together.”

“Our last summer together was right before the pandemic,” Gina continued. “Jamari and Luke were 16 and Owen was 14, and it was like they were all little kids again.  It was summer at its best with the kids riding bikes, swimming, mini golfing, video gaming and, of course, eating lots of food. We did not know that it would be our last time together.”

“Last summer, tragedy struck when Jamari was shot and killed while riding his bike. The pain and heartbreak of that day feels bigger than words can describe. Amidst this unbearable heartbreak, his amazing mother, Victoria, knew that she needed to turn her pain into something powerful to continue Jamari’s legacy and spirit. Please join us in supporting her in every way possible to bring her vision to life and ensure that Jamari’s life and impact is not forgotten,” Gina said.

A special fund has been set up in Jamari’s memory to celebrate him on “Jamari Johns Day.”

Please visit The Fund’s donation page at: https://freshair.org/donate-jamari/

The Fresh Air Fund

Since its founding in 1877, The Fresh Air Fund, a not-for-profit youth development organization, has provided free life-changing summer experiences in the outdoors to more than 1.8 million children from New York City’s underserved communities. Young people also participate in year-round leadership, career exploration and educational programs.  

Photo credit: Jamari Johns Day Launched as Fresh Air Fund Children De


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