Walkathon held to honor the life of Laney High School graduate DJ McLeod

He was a Laney football player who had the support of high schools across counties. 

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY)– The Cape Fear community came together to honor the life of Laney grad DJ McLeod, who recently died after months of fighting cancer.

His alma mater held a walk-a-thon in his remembrance on Saturday.

To quote a saying of DJ’s, “it wasn’t a bad day, but a different type of good day.”

He was a Laney football player who had the support of high schools across counties. 

Many people called DJ a son, a friend, a teammate, and so much more. 

“God put this together and this plan together and he has worked it from the beginning to this very moment and I know that his hands will continue to be in it,” said Ashanti Craine, DJ’s mother.

“He was probably the most positive, happy kid,” said Laney High School Head Football Coach Luke Little.

Hundreds showed up in support of DJ in a walk-a-thon hosted by Laney High, with student-athletes from all across the Cape Fear being “DJ-strong.” 

“He has brought, despite what happens on this field on Friday night’s, we can all come together for a purpose,” said Crane. “We are all one. One and all, we are one. And that was DJ.”  

Daren Brown calls DJ his best friend. The receiver for Laney’s football team spoke at his teammate’s funeral. He was representing the entire team. 

“I actually got a tattoo of him. We were pretty much brothers. Out of everyone on the team we were the closest,” said Brown. “It was really hard for me to get up there. But I found the strength, he gave me the strength… to find the words to say. I’ll try to give the glory to him after every touchdown I score in college. I’ll point to the sky.” 

The walkathon was originally planned as a fundraiser to help pay for the continued medical expenses but DJ’s mother still wanted to do this, even after DJ had died.

DJ was well known in the community but also on the field. 

“He’s inspired a lot of people. And not just in this area. I was telling somebody earlier that throughout the whole process I was getting texts and calls from coaches – people all over the state – high school coaches, college coaches,” said Coach Little. “A lot of people were keeping up with him and it’s cool because he was such a good kid. He deserved every bit of the attention he is getting.” 

This walkathon raised more than $17,000 to not only help pay for DJ’s expenses but to help with research for the next child’s fight with cancer. 

“That has to change, our children are our pride and joy. They are our future. And if we don’t protect them, then we aren’t protecting our future,” said Crane.

The family is still accepting donations in DJ’s name: gofundme.com/f/fundraising-for-dj-mcleod.

Categories: Local, New Hanover, News, Sports, Top Stories