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Originally published Tuesday, May 6, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Flashback | Ron Jackson makes his move to help aid South Africa

Athlete: Ron "Cookie" Jackson, Franklin, Class of 1980. Sports: Football, track. High-school rewind: One of the fastest athletes in state...

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Athlete: Ron "Cookie" Jackson, Franklin, Class of 1980.

Sports: Football, track.

High-school rewind: One of the fastest athletes in state history. Set state record in 100-meter dash (10.54) and 200-meter dash (21.72) as a senior. After track season, clocked a 10.48 in 100, the fourth best time in nation in 1980.

Three-year letterman as running back for Quakers, gained 1,078 yards and scored 16 touchdowns as a senior and was an All-Metro AA first-team pick.

After high school: Four-year running back for the Huskies, finished eighth on school's all-time rushing list with 1,507 yards. Missed 1981 Rose Bowl with a broken ankle, but led UW in rushing the next year and started in the Huskies' 24-0 Rose Bowl win over Iowa.

After athletics: Returned to school after football to study theology and social services. Became an active Christian, went to bible school and got involved in community projects through the church.

Personal: Jackson, 46, lives in Ellensburg with his wife of 21 years, Melissa. Their son Josiah, 15, is a multi-sport athlete at Ellensburg High.

Fast forward: Jackson described running at full speed as "effortless" and "like I was gliding." During his record 10.54-second run, he remembers looking at the clock during the race.

Jackson wonders how far his speed could've taken him. "I probably could've gone to the Olympics," he said.

Now Jackson has his sights on helping others. He has worked in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland, but currently travels to South Africa, where he gives motivational speeches, raises finances and holds leadership conferences to help local communities become more independent.

"There's so much work to do there, and helping has always been a desire of mine," said Jackson. "The thing is, what little bit I have to offer is more than what they have."

Joshua Mayers

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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