BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Cheer could be heard throughout the Boutwell Auditorium in downtown Birmingham Sunday, during the 5th annual Deja King Foundation Trunk Party.
The event, driven by local business and community donations, sends students in the area off to college with thousands of dollars in supplies.
“I’m very excited,” said Hoover High School graduate Mandrell McCray.
McCray is headed to the University of West Alabama to study conservation and field biology.
" I was expecting to get toiletries and things like that but I wasn’t expecting to be written a check," McCray exclaimed.
McCray was given a check for $500 by SlimFit Weightloss Clinics. The company vowing to sponsor McCray for the duration of his college career.
Other students received similar monetary gifts from other sponsors.
Founder Shaunta Woods started the Deja King Foundation to celebrate her daughter Deja King’s high school graduation.
Deja, who had multiple disabilities was not expected to live past her first birthday.
“Deja was born normal. At the age of 6 months she contracted pneumococcal meningitis that left her with multiple disabilities,” Woods explained.
Deja beat those odds and lived to be 21-year’s-old. She passed away July 12th, just days before the annual give-a-way. Woods remained resolute on continuing Dejas legacy, by continuing the foundations charity efforts.
During Sunday’s event, the students and their families stood to their feet, applauding Woods for her tenacity and efforts.
“I see all that they have done for me. I am grateful for them,” said Spain Park High School graduate, Naomi Gonzalez.
With a 4.6 gpa and a 34 out of 40 score on the ACT, Gonzalez, on a full-ride scholarship, will attend Auburn University.
“It took a lot of time and dedication to my studies,” said Gonzales.
She plans to study computer science. Gonzalez says she knows the advantages she’s been afforded in her life, inspired by the generosity of the Deja King Foundation, Gonzalez and McCray said they both plan to give back to the community.
“To see her go through that and still be able to get up everyday and do this for students like me and others, I think it’s a really big deal,” said McCray.
Each student also received a letter and plaque from Birmingham Mayor, Randall Woodfin.
Woods said the foundation plans to continue this outreach in Deja’s honor for many years to come.
To connect with the Deja King Foundation, contact Shaunta Woods at email@example.com