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Lawrence residents build a family legacy of giving

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A scholarship fund established nearly 11 years ago in memory of a brother and son has flourished into a fundraising foundation that helps to support the educational needs of students in need.

Lawrence residents Deion Wright, who began the DJ Wright Memorial Scholarship Fund in 2009 in memory of his older sibling Daniel (DJ), and Lori Wright, Deion and Daniel’s mother, have grown the fund into a board-governed foundation that includes an annual October fundraiser and other events to promote the foundation. Deion has a younger brother Dylan, a rapper who goes by the name Lil Benny, and is signed to Five Towns native Steve Madden’s 5Towns Records label.

Daniel died in a Pennsylvania car accident in 2008. Deion was a Lawrence High School junior when he created the scholarship. “I think it’s amazing,” Deion said about the development of the foundation. “I’m a person that is big on legacy and helping the next generation not hidden. I want to be a difference maker.”

Money raised by the scholarship fund has helped students pay for books, school uniforms, tuition and supplies, including technology equipment. More than $3,000 has been raised in the past few years. “I am keeping my son’s legacy alive and it helps me to know other people are being helped through the legacy of my son,” said Lori, who focuses on the educational side reviewing the students’ qualifications for the scholarships.

When Deion started the scholarship $200 was raised in 2010 and roughly $700 the following year. Lori finds it remarkable that Deion found the wherewithal to do this. “I thought it was amazing, the strength and courage as a young man to establish something so my son is not forgotten,” she said. “It shows the strength of his love, the intensity of his love.” Lori recorded a song and in July her self-published book “Another Side of Victory” will be released.

Tanequa Strong, founder of the Ageless Summit and chief executive officer of Taj Madison Watches, has moderated a few events hosted by the Wrights. Strong said that the scholarships have had a positive influence on the people who received them.

“At the inception of the DJ Wright Memorial Scholarship Fund, I’ve watched many sad faces turn into smiles,” she said. “There’s countless cases of youth and young adults, in both urban and suburban areas, whose lives were impacted. From the high school graduate of East New York who thought they wouldn’t be able to begin school because of the lack funds. Or the student in Houston, Texas after Hurricane Harvey whose school was severally damaged and in need of supplies, tuition and advanced technology.” Strong added that 22 Far Rockaway children were able to see the movie “Black Panther” that was used as an educational tool about heritage and unity.

Videographer and photographer Lakisha Bostick volunteers her skills to the foundation. “I got involved because I saw the cause, I like the mission and I want to be able to push this scholarship,” she said. “It’s a great thing Lori is doing giving her son a voice and taking a situation and helping out students in need. It’s worth my while to make an impact on the next generation.”

The family continues to overcome grief as the boys’ father died on Nov. 21. A musical show stage manager, Deion said he wants to do more. “I want to teach kids music production and the science and technology connected to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math),” he said.