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Graduations are a time of celebration, but it was also a time of mourning for an Illinois mother who lost her son just days before the ceremony in a car crash.

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18-year-old Aaron Dunigan was killed after prom last week when the car his friend was driving crossed a median and crashed into another vehicle, according to TODAY. But his courageous mother, Katherine Jackson, took to the stage in full cap and gown to accept her son’s diploma.

Jackson, who didn’t have the chance to walk the stage herself, told WMAQ, “I’m going to be his legs and he’s going to be my wings, and we’re going to go up there and get our diploma.”

Aaron was prom king and a star quarterback for the school’s team. He planned to play football for Southern Illinois University.

Watch the video from WMAQ to see this touching, yet heartbreaking story.

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