When people ask me what I enjoy most about my job, a few things usually pop up. I enjoy winning coverage of major events, I love helping others reach their goals and succeed, and I like helping create a lasting legacy — especially something personal.
When I met D.J. Williams, I didn’t know much about him. I was told he was a great football player and had a personality that could translate well to TV. In researching him, I came across an E:60 story about surviving domestic violence.
Wow. I was immediately sold on the person.
We ended up hiring him as a co-host KARK 4 TODAY. At that period of time, we were featuring station talent in a promotional campaign that highlighted their ties to the area. For D.J., it made sense to see if he’d talk about moving to Little Rock and the people who helped his family start over. The result was an Emmy award-winning promotional campaign that had the potential to help people struggling through similar circumstances.
I can’t remember exactly how we decided to turn it into a Day of Action. I knew we should do something to beyond promos, so we tossed around a few ideas. Like most new situations, D.J. seemed up for the challenge — whatever it may be.
We launched our first D.J.’s Day of Action as a telethon in March of 2016 on KARK. Throughout the day, D.J. promised dinners, classroom pizza parties, beard shaving, and other assorted things for donations from the public. At the end of the telethon, we collected more than $26,000 for Women & Children First, a non-profit that helps survivors of domestic violence get back on their feet.
This year, we’ll expand the effort to Fox16 as part of our new Victory Over Violence campaign.
— Austin Kellerman (@AustinKellerman) March 9, 2017
As an at-risk child who easily could’ve gone down another path, D.J. received help, was pointed in the right direction, and took advantage of the opportunities presented to him.
He will always be remembered as one of the best tight ends in the history of Arkansas Razorback football. But now as a successful athlete, speaker and host, D.J. has the chance to give back to those who helped him find his way and inspire others currently confronting violent situations.
That’s a lasting legacy.