18-year-old Darnell Hunter, Jr. passed away suddenly on February 20 from a severe infection and pneumonia.
His death came as a shock to his PHS classmates. Senior Bre Davis said, "When I found out that he passed away last week, it really devastated me."
Davis said she was close to DJ. She said he was quiet, but friendly and he never asked for much.
Davis always tried to help him out. She even wrote his obituary. She said, "I always made sure I said hi to him, gave him money, bought him stuff."
Davis and several other seniors are trying to raise enough money to pay for his burial services. Beyond that, they hope to have something at the school to honor him.
Student Ky'shana Bailey said, "We know that he is in a better place and people here care for him and we still want to try to do as much as we can for him."
Both students said the hardest part will come in May, when his chair sits empty at their graduation ceremony. It was a milestone DJ was really looking forward to. Davis said, "Most of us was rooting for him on to graduate because he told me he was going to ICC. So we were like 'you got this, five more months and you walk across that stage.'"
For now, DJ's classmates are doing their best to make sure he gets everything he deserves.
Bailey said, "We want to have something up for him at the school because he really died a Lion."
Memorial services for DJ are scheduled for Friday.
If you want to help these students, you can call Peoria High School at (309) 672-6630 or you can send the high school a check. You can make it out to Peoria High School and put an attention to "Darnell Hunter Memorial Fund."