To turn tragedy into triumph: How DJ Henry Dream Fund supports young talent

Ibrahim Aksoy, Contributing Writer

Ten years ago, the Pace community was shocked by the death of their junior football player. DJ Henry, a 20-year-old student-athlete, was shot dead by a police officer outside of a bar.

After Henry’s death, his family came up with the idea of founding an organization that would honor him and his passion for sports. The DJ Henry Dream Fund (DJHDF) was founded by his parents.

Danroy Henry Sr. had the idea of the foundation days after DJ was killed and he wanted a way to honor DJ’s life and his love of sports,” Angella Henry, the executive director of DJHDF, said.

The organization started as a community based organization to support local children in Massachusetts, where Henry was from. The community-based scholarships are provided to children ages between 5-18 who are interested in sports and performing arts.

“Believing that every child deserves a “YES” when it comes to community engagement, DJHDF provides financial support allowing youths to participate in community-based programs such as sports, performing arts, and summer programs,” Henry said.

DJ Henry was a devoted sportsman and committed himself to become a successful football player. While taking part of athletics, he always made an effort to be a team player. At times, Henry would share equipment with teammates or even pay their sports fees. 

His sharing nature inspired his family to honor Henry’s way of life by providing a community-based program.

“He had a fierce determination to make certain no one felt invisible while on the field or sidelines. DJ’s life serves as the legacy we carry forward every day at the DJ Henry Dream Foundation,” Henry added.

According to DJHDF, 57% of children have access to community-based programs such as local sports, performing arts, and summer programs. The fund is focused on the 43% who do not have direct access to such programs due to lack of financial support and resources.

“Participation in such programs, despite economic position, empowers young people to be the best they can be,” Henry said.

 The tragic event affected his family and loved ones, but his family looked forward and wanted to represent his legacy in a way that Henry would advocate for.

“We honor DJ’s legacy through the DJ Henry Dream Fund,” Henry stated. “The mission of the DJ Henry Dream Fund is to share DJ’s love of sports by providing scholarships to enable children to say yes to healthy and involved lifestyles by participating in community-based athletics, wellness, arts and summer camps.”

With the upcoming social justice week at Pace and the increased knowledge surrounding Henry, the DJHDF wants to take this opportunity and raise awareness of the fund and its aim.

“We think Pace students have brought more awareness to DJ’s life and the school is now doing more to honor DJ. We welcome any support the Pace community would like to offer to the DJ Henry Dream Fund,” Henry added.