Tags: Farm life, Farm family, Boomsma, Keep His Smile Alive, Farming, Farm Safety, Never Forgotten, Farm Parent


April 24, 2024

Scott Heiberger

Melissa Ploeckelman

Lessons for life:

Sister finds her farm safety voice as a student and athlete   

College is a life-changing experience for many people, but Jaiden Boomsma’s life changed well before she arrived on the campus of South Dakota State University (SDSU). 

Seven years ago this month, when Jaiden was 15, she lost her little brother Jaxon in a tractor runover on their grandparents’ farm. Soon after, the Boomsma family established a memorial to “Keep his Smile Alive” and try to prevent a similar tragedy from striking another family.

Through it all, track and field has been a constant. The training, competition, teammates and coaches have all provided Jaiden a safe place when the grief swells up, and a platform on which to celebrate life.

“Every time I win, I sit there and think, this is for you, Jaxon,” Jaiden said. “Track has allowed me to not only honor him, but it gives me days to not think about it, when I can just focus on my blocks, I can focus on the long jump. So it goes both ways. Track also reminds me how many people I have in my life. It’s been one of my biggest blessings.”

As she prepares to graduate in May with a degree in business economics, and looks forward to competing in sprints and long jump at the Summit League championships May 9-11 in St. Paul, Minn., Jaiden shared how college and track have helped develop her agricultural safety voice. (Read Jaiden’s full story at the Storytelling page of the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety.)

One class, “marketing for non-profits,” stands out.

“They said, ‘Market what your goal is,’ and my goal with the (Jaxon Liam Boomsma) Memorial is farm safety, so I made a TikTok video for National Farm Safety and Health Week,” Jaiden recalled. “I started the video with, ‘This week is Farm Safety Week; a very important week for my family because in April 2017, I lost my little brother in a tractor accident on the farm.’ And then I highlighted some of the stuff we do with the Memorial like the scholarships and events around Yankton, and basically showed how it all related to my family.”

The video also included the Boomsmas’ book, titled, “Staying safe on the farm with Jaxon,” which has become the calling card of the Memorial. Several years ago, Jaiden and her siblings, Callie and Carter, worked with their Aunt Mary Boomsma on the book, available through the Memorial’s Facebook page.

Reaction to the video far exceeded expectations, garnering 233,000 views and more than 31,000 likes. Orders for the book flooded in.

Jaiden will be pursuing a career as a financial advisor, and plans to continue farm safety presentations at local schools and spreading the family’s story.

“I am so blessed to say Jaxon has been my motivation to push through adversity with a smile. He is my motivation for all my accomplishments and growth, on and off the track.”

Jaiden’s full story is available at the Storytelling page of the National Children’s Center.


Jaiden Boomsma (.jpg)

Jaiden with Jaxon (.jpg)

Display in Latest News: Yes