The parents of two Suitland High School boys killed in February were overwhelmed by the support shown for their families at a charity basketball game Friday.
Several hundred Suitland High School students and other supporters packed one side of the school's gym bleachers in Forestville for the "Silence the Violence" game, donating $5 each. The game was held to raise money for the families of Charles Walker Jr., 15, of Temple Hills and Aaron Burrell Kidd, 18, of District Heights. Both were Suitland High students who were gunned down in February.
"This is a blessing. It's truly a heartfelt blessing to know the community cares," said Theresa Williams, Kidd's mother, who attended the game with Latasha Massey, Walker's mother.
Walker was killed Feb. 18 during a robbery over his shoes, while Kidd was killed Feb. 19.
Both parents said they intended to use the money from the event, which will be split between the two mothers, to purchase burial plaques for their sons. The total amount raised for the families was still being tallied as of Saturday afternoon.
"This is a great help. As a parent, you never expect to bury your child. And as a single parent barely making it out there, it's even harder," Massey said. Massey is a single mother of three, while Williams also has a daughter. Massey also wants to start a foundation in memory of her son to support children with underprivileged parents, she said.
Two Bowie nonprofits, Mentoring to Manhood and Men Aiming Higher, organized the event through Suitland High School and comprised the two basketball teams playing. Both organizations work with at-risk young men in the Washington, D.C., area to keep them away from crime and empower them to become successful in their communities, said Darryl Barnes, president of Men Aiming Higher.
Events like "Silence the Violence" work to bring young people together and create a "big, happy community" to keep young people off the street and away from danger, Williams said. She added that Kidd was also an active basketball player and dreamed of being in the National Basketball Association.
Massey said she hopes the event will inspire the students there to think harder about the choices they make and stay on the right path.
This is the nonprofits' second annual "Silence the Violence" event, with the first held last June to raise money for their organizations and bringing in $500, Barnes said.
The idea behind "Silence the Violence" is bringing the community together to raise awareness of the violence in the community, said Rob Howze, executive director of Mentoring to Manhood.
Suitland High assistant principal Nicole McClure said the event also encourages parents and adults to pay more attention to youths and their future.
"Words cannot explain how I feel about all this since it's so overwhelming," Williams said.