It literally came out of the blue. Walking down a Manhattan sidewalk, when his cell phone rang. “Drew, it’s Mrs. Taylor… I want to see you guys.”
Finally, it was here. There was of course some surprise at hearing her voice, even a little bit of trepidation of the memories and the emotions inextricably tied to them. But more than anything, there was relief. Finally, it was about to begin. The healing, the changing. That phone call had been a shock, but it also touched something that had always been there, for a decade, right below the surface. He, and all of us, were waiting to be called. Finally, our enlistment would begin.
We came from a place of opportunity. We had advantages, natural and nurtured, that few others had. We didn’t even really notice until D.A. showed us. And D.A. had more than most; a great student, athlete and friend, his death was a spectacular loss, yet knowing him was an even greater gift. His sudden passing revealed to us how close even the strongest of us are to death; his life and character showed us our own strengths – what we had and what we ought to become; that goodness doesn’t have a pigment; that an open heart can be the most powerful force for good.
Our lives were changed that spring in ways we didn’t and still don’t fully understand. Though we were self-centered teenagers and now possibly even more self-centered 20-somethings, DA’s lessons of selflessness have endured. 10 years ago, fate and circumstance altered his, and our, courses. Now, through will and purpose, we are determined to honor his memory and strengthen his legacy. The Taylors, along with D.A.’s friends, are now working through the D.A. Taylor Charitable Foundation to allow our fallen brother’s greatest gifts of hope, belief, and strength of character to endure and ultimately prevail. The Foundation hopes to establish scholarships in D.A.’s name to help area kids go on to college. It is our hope to intervene in young people’s lives, and as the Foundation grows we plan to do so at increasingly young ages. Our goal is to identify the youths with the will to better themselves through academic study and then to instill a sense of hope, and perhaps then purpose, by giving them the confidence and means to attain higher education.
We begin with one small step: one scholarship to a state school for an area child of a public servant. As the Foundation grows, so will our ability to touch more lives and promise greater education and opportunity. It is our unwavering conviction, forged by our brief contact with D.A., that a single individual can have an immense impact on our world. And we, as his friends and conscripts, are asking you to help us make further changes, by giving the gift of hope and knowledge to the young people that we believe will carry on his legacy and make their own positive contribution in their world.