'Hug them as much as possible, because you never know'
(Update: Adding video, comments from parents)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The parents of a Bend teen who died after an ATV rollover crash on the Fourth of July have started a foundation in honor of their son, to help other youth be able to compete in the sports he loved so much.
Donovan Williams, 14, was a student at High Desert Middle School and was headed into his freshman year at Bend High School.
His parents, Becky Williams and Jody Williams, spoke with NewsChannel 21 Wednesday about their new foundation, Long Live Dono.
They said their son was a star athlete who had just started football practice and conditioning with the Lava Bears. He also sang with the High Desert Middle School Jazz Band.
“His favorite thing in life, absolutely, was sports,” Becky said. “It was everything he did. His favorite out of all of them was basketball.”
Becky said the purpose of the new foundation is to fund more opportunities for youth to play sports.
“He’s had so many friends, so many connections -- there were so many people that knew him we didn’t even know knew him, that we wanted to continue that on,” Becky said.
On the Fourth of July, Deschutes County sheriff’s deputies said Donovan was one of four boys ages 13 to 15 riding ATVs on public land west of Deer Lane and Fremont Road near Alfalfa.
After his passing, an update to a GoFundMe page set up for the Williams family by a friend, Aria Brooks, said his organs were donated to six people.
Becky said Donovan had tried a myriad of sports, including wrestling, flag football, tackle football, and basketball, both for school teams and youth sports with the Bend Park and Recreation District.
“He was so into sports, and so encouraging for others to get involved,” Becky said. “The purpose was to give kids an opportunity to play if they didn’t have the opportunity, or they wanted to try a sport that they’d never tried before.”
To kick off their fundraising, Long Live Dono gave out bracelets with Donovan’s jersey number, in exchange for donations.
She said donations will go toward sports-related expenses, like paying for uniforms, protective padding and cleats.
“He was fortunate enough to be talented enough to play in a higher level just beyond the Parks and Rec you normally get -- and that is expensive,” she said.
Donovan’s parents said they are in the process of designing new bracelets with the quote: “Failure is not final.”
“It was something Donovan had written in one of his notebooks that I’d noticed,” Becky said. “It was talking about goals and not being able to reach your goals, and that failure isn’t the end, that you can continue to try.”
Donovan’s father, Jody, shared two messages for other families.
“For any youth out there who are driving or getting their license, make sure you wear your seat belt,” he said. “My second message is to all the parents out there. I know adolescents are at an age now where they want you to stay away. But no matter what, always tell your kids you love them as much as possible. Hug them as much as possible, because you just never know.”