No. 55 D.J. Fields with his dad and mom, Dwon Fields and Kema Bryant before a football game. COURTESY FIELDS FAMILY

The Bluffton community has helped Dwon Fields and Kema Bryant to cope and persevere through the most unimaginable of tragedies, the loss of their only son, D.J. Fields. Now the duo has created an event to say “thank you” to all those who have helped them over the past 18 months.

D.J.’s Day of Giving Back will be held Sept. 17 at Eagles Field. The day will begin at 8 a.m. with a 5.5K walk and run, followed by a community feast, music and games galore for the kids.

“The incredible number of people that have been involved with DJ’s Day of Giving, with the scholarship fund, all the things to keep DJ’s name alive, it just means the world,” Fields said. “So many people have called, just been there to lean on through the tough times and we just want to say thanks.”

Dwon Fields, Jr., better known to everyone as “DJ,” was murdered on March 5, 2021, while driving home on the Bluffton Parkway. He was shot in what police and prosecutors have deemed a mistaken identity killing. The case against those involved in the murder is still working its way through the court system.

Fields was a rising community star about to graduate from Bluffton High School. The loss was immeasurable for the school and for those who knew DJ to be a hard worker who respected elders and gave tireless love to his friends and family.

The Bluffton native had an infectious personality and turned strangers to friends with a kind word and a smile. Many of those “instant friends” have given back to the family, with more than $100,000 for the Live Like DJ Scholarship Fund raised through events like DJ’s Day of Giving and the generosity of groups like F3 of the Lowcountry.

The first class of Live Like DJ Scholars from area schools received scholarship awards in June, a group that included Ella Anderson, Leyla Wangari Dubs and Robert Brown from Bluffton High School, Alora Orr from May River High School, Ella Madonado from Hilton Head Island High School and Charmane Orr from Wade Hampton High School.

“We set out to make sure DJ impacts future generations of area student stars and the community has truly blessed us with making that hope a reality,” Fields said.

The Fields native sons and Bryant have long been known for always lending a helping hand, but Dwon Sr. said that giving back has taken on a new meaning since DJ’s murder.

“It’s my connection to him. I know I’m honoring him and the love he put out into the world with everything I do, so this Giving Back event is truly special for us,” Fields said.

Fields said he will be manning the grill and the fryer with the help of a slew of barbecue aficionados. He said to expect hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, cole slaw, BBQ chicken and other surprises.

“My Mom is trying to get me to cook up some fried fish, so we’ll see where that goes,” Fields said. “But I know it’s going to be a big-time meal. And we’ll try to get everyone out there before it gets too hot and before the college football games are on.”

There will be music provided by Charleston sensation DJ Tank, and bounce houses and interactive games provided by Firehouse Nutz Extreme Events.

“We’re going to have water slides, cornhole, basketball and baseball inflatables. The kids are going to be busy,” Fields said.

The day begins with a non-competitive 5.5K walk and run – to honor the number 55 that DJ wore as a member of the BLHS football team. The event begins at Eagles Field at 8 a.m. The first 75 participants will receive a “Team 55” t-shirt. Race registration is $20 per person and can be done online by typing in “DJ’s Day of Giving Back” on runsignup.com. The race is sponsored by the Town of Bluffton and Riverwalk Animal Hospital, and all proceeds will go the scholarship fund.

The event will be the culmination of an emotional week for the Fields family, with Dwon’s birthday on Sept. 14, DJ’s birthday on Sept. 15 and the retirement of DJ’s number at the Bluffton-Battery Creek football game on Sept. 16.

The hope is to make this an annual event like DJ’s Day of Giving, next scheduled for Feb. 24, 2023 – the 55th day of the new year.

“The amount of people that are committed to keeping DJ’s spirit alive, it’s just overwhelming at times,” Fields said. “We just have so much gratitude for folks, it’s impossible to express that in words. I had a 10-year-old come up to me the other day. He said he heard about DJ and wanted to give me a hug. That random kindness is directed our way every day. It has been hard, hard times the last 18 months and I know football season will always be hard. But just feeling this hug from the community, it truly helps get us through.”

If you can’t make it to the Day of Giving Back event but would still like more information or to donate to the Live Like DJ Scholarship Fund, go online cf-lowcountry.org and search for “Live Like DJ” in the fund directory.

Tim Wood is a veteran journalist based in Bluffton. Contact him at timwood@blufftonsun.com.