Recently, Oakland Raiders LB Sam Williams spent an afternoon at Frick Middle School in Oakland in honor of 11-year-old Alana Williams, who was killed in a hit-and-run outside of the school. Many of the students and teachers witnessed the accident, and have been adversely affected by her death. Sam Williams spoke to 40 students, teachers, and Alana's mother, to commend them on their bravery following the tragedy and to inspire them to continue on their path to success.
Lejon Loggins, an Oakland resident who has taken it upon himself to make a difference in his community, worked with the Khadafy Foundation and The Oakland Raiders to set up this special event for the students. "The main thing is that once it happened (it happened in front of the school) and I saw the kids' faces, I knew they saw what happened and the principal was the last person to hold her," said Loggins. "A lot of times people forget that the kids are mourning just as well. I thought 'what can I do to motivate them' or let them know that 'hey, I'm on your side?'" Having the Raiders surprise the students at Frick Middle School was the motivation for which he was searching.
Sam Williams felt drawn to this particular appearance because of his recent experience in the off-season with his good friend and teammate, Marquis Cooper, who was killed in a boating accident off the coast of Florida. He knows how difficult a tragic situation is to overcome and he felt the importance of reaching out to the kids who had just gone through such a horrible tragedy. Rather than focus on the past, Sam Williams spent the afternoon speaking about the amazing things the students have the potential to accomplish in the future and how the students can live their lives in honor of Alana, just as he does for Marquis Cooper.
Sam Williams came to Frick Middle School to continue the healing process. "One thing I hope they take from this is that they can grow and use this accident as motivation to inspire them, to become better human beings and learn from the mistake of no one stepping forward with the accident and just hopefully make them become better people," said Sam Williams.
According to Principal Gourdine the school "responded really well by having counseling services and coordinating with the district to offer services" in response to the accident, which many of the students witnessed. Because of the positive way the school handled the situation, Principal Gourdine believes "the kids have moved on… and are honoring Alana in their own ways."
"I hope they listened to a lot of his words – what it takes to be successful in college, what it takes to be successful in high school, listening to your teacher, doing your homework," said Gourdine. While he hopes the students listen to these messages, Gourdine is working diligently to get a traffic light installed on the busy street in front of the school and has already succeeded in placing crossing guards outside the school to try to prevent another accident.
Both Sam Williams and Loggins hope that their actions can give a glimmer of hope for the future in this Oakland neighborhood to all those affected by the accident. "My main focus is to inspire or re-inspire just in case people lost hope," said Loggins. While the community continues to mourn the loss of their young student and waits for the apprehension of the person responsible for Alana Williams' death, Loggins hopes that Sam's inspiration "keeps them on the right path."