LARGO, Md. (WDVM) — A Prince George’s County couple lost their daughter to gun violence five years ago. Now they’re keeping her legacy alive by saving one child from turning to the streets at a time.
“We know when young people are busy, when they are productive, they are less likely to menace. So we’re trying to give those opportunities.”Anthony and Tyreese McAllister lost their daughter Ayana to gun violence,” said Tyreese McAllister, mother and co-founder of the Ayana J. McAllister Foundation.
Ayana McAllister lost her life in March 2017 when she was fatally shot in Washington D.C. during her college spring break.
“Emotionally, every day is different. You continue to move on, but you never move away from that feeling,” said Anthony McAllister, father and co-founder of the Ayana J. McAllister Foundation.
Now they’re keeping her legacy alive by giving back to the community and encouraging kids to stay away from gun violence.
“I think she would be proud of the legacy we’re creating in her name because she wanted to help children or young people who were in trouble,” said Tyreese.
Part of that is hosting their annual Hoops Against Gun Violence charity event. Several teams from across the county participated. This year it was held at Largo High School, where Ayana spent her time playing basketball with the Largo Lions.
“Gun violence impacts everybody, mentally, physically, and emotionally. So today is a day that we can unload just a little bit and it goes on up to the youth and the adults,” said volunteer Brenda Parker.
“This is one way to bring life to not only the youth but the community, vendors, volunteers, just bringing everyone together to make this legacy,” said volunteer and board member Marcy Trueheart.
There were several vendors, job opportunities, food, and workshops on money management and gun safety.
“What we want to do is make sure that they can at least be safe if they have siblings in the home or at least have their own children in the home. They know how to store [a gun] and we’re also giving out gun locks,” said Tyreese. “The gun laws don’t stop people who are menacing from going out shooting. So the laws are not going to protect us. We’ve got to be realistic about the strategies that we use and the strategies have to be different.”
The McAllister family says they’re giving the youth every option they can and leaders in the community agree.
“It seems small, but it’s major because some of these people could be out in the street in harm’s way but they’re here enjoying each other. They’re here competing in a positive way. They’re learning about sportsmanship, teamwork, and all the things that would build a character that would ensure that at least one of them won’t get lost to the streets,” said Calvin Hawkins, Prince George’s County Council Member-At-Large.
“She would be ecstatic with what we’re continuing to do to keep her legacy alive,” said Anthony.