KNOXVILLE (WATE) – It’s been just over a year since Knoxville’s Zaevion Dobson died while shielding his friends from gunfire.
Knox County declared January 24 “Zaevion Dobson Day” to honor the bravery he showed at just 15-years-old. Lonsdale Elementary hosted events to honor the teen.
“This was where he was raised. This is where he lives. All about Zae today,” said his mom Zenobia Dobson.
“We know with the way he passed away, he was obviously heroic, that goes without saying. We want to honor the way he lived his life. That’s what we want to teach our kids here and make a difference in the community,” said Dobson’s fourth grade teacher Jennifer McVay.
There were many activities including a basketball game for third through fifth grade students, a performance by the fifth grade dance team and fourth grade chorus, and speeches from Dobson’s mother Zenobia and University of Tennessee football players Todd Kelly, Jr. and LaTroy Lewis.
“I just, I love children and I just want to make sure they’re going to be okay especially when it comes to their future,” said Dobson.
The message was how students can live like Zaevion and look up to him.
“A hero, just to be like Zaevion Dobson,” said students Kyara Ellis and Mugisha Odrei.
“It helps my sanity. It keeps me grounded, just to know someone is thinking about him. It makes my heart feel really glad,” said Dobson.
Lonsdale Elementary School proud that January 24 will forever be Zae Day, hoping they can make positive changes in the community.
“So we don’t have any more gun violence and all of that,” said Ellis.
“It’s not focused on the way that he passed away, but we want to use that as a platform to start making a change in our community and starg getting our kids to realize that you don’t have to do the thing as great as Zaevion did to be a hero. You can be a hero in your every day life,” said McVay.
It was sacrifice and a gift East Tennessee will never forget.
“You can be a hero. It might not be doing what Zae did but it could be finishing your education, working really hard, and being kind to people everyday,” said Dobson’s former teacher Julie Lowe.
The elementary school raised more than $1,000 to construct a “friendship bench”‘ in honor of Zaevion Dobson somewhere on their playground.