MARTINEZ -- Saturday, the day after Darius Jones would have turned 19, about 100 people participated in the fourth annual 5k run and walk in his honor. At the back of the pack, walking slowly with the aid of a cane, was Darius' aunt, Paulette Jones, who suffered a stroke the day of her nephew's funeral.
"I've done this event every year," Jones said as she admired the scenery at the Martinez Regional Shoreline. "He was such a wonderful kid."
Jones was 15 when he died of sudden cardiac arrest while playing basketball in 2009. He was attending De La Salle High School and hoped to play on the school's basketball team. His mother Monique Bradley established the Darius Jones Foundation to honor her only child and raise awareness of sudden cardiac arrest through heart screenings, CPR training and placing automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) at youth sports events.
Saturday's event was a fundraiser for the foundation.
"I just had to make a difference, because he told me he wanted to be somebody," said Bradley, who works for Contra Costa County and administers the foundation. "And now he's not going to be anybody. Nobody would know he was here."
Julian Corpus didn't know Darius, but he knows of him. Corpus, 16, a member of the De La Salle varsity basketball team, took part in a CPR training session before participating in the run.
"My team does this every year," he said. "He went to De La Salle. His dream was to play De La Salle basketball. We do this to support the family."
Corpus said he wouldn't have known about sudden cardiac arrest if not for Jones. Now when he enters a gym, he checks to see if it has an AED. "It's crazy that some people don't have them," he said.
Logan Breen is the manager of the basketball team at Santa Clara University, and served in the same capacity at De La Salle. He knew Darius as "someone reliable, dependable, a great teammate." A couple weeks ago he noticed an AED in a gym.
"It reminded me of him," Breen said.
Darius' condition was undetected. Jones said Darius' father (her brother) and grandfather both died of heart-related conditions.
"There are so many kids, especially African-American kids, where heart disease goes undetected," she said.
Jones admires Bradley for the hard work she puts into the foundation.
"She is amazing," Jones said. "I'm proud of her. Monique took a tragedy and turned it into something so beautiful. Monique is just like Darius, an exceptional, beautiful person."
Bradley is planning a trip to Europe this week to cross an item off what she calls her Darius Bucket List -- a list of things he dreamed of doing.
"He wanted to go to Europe so much," she said. "He just loved life."
If you would like to help, visit www.dariusjonesfoundation.org or call 925-473-1283.
Contact Gary Peterson at 925-952-5053. Follow him at Twitter.com/garyscribe.