Valdosta Daily Times

October 13, 2013

Family, friends gather Saturday in honor of Kendrick Johnson's 18th birthday

Kristin Finney
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — This week marked the first birthday that Kendrick Johnson’s family has spent without him. On Thursday, October 10, he would have turned 18 years old.

In honor of his memory and to allow his friends and family to continue to show their support and love for him, the Kendrick Johnson Planning Committee, along with many other family and friends held a birthday celebration Saturday at Saunders Park.

During the celebration, family members, friends and local supporters gathered together to honor the memory of Johnson.

Susie Kier, KJ’s aunt, said of the celebration, “This is the first birthday without him. We want justice.”

During the birthday event, there was food, games and activities for families, along with a basketball and volleyball tournament, live entertainment and music. At noon, a time of prayer and reflection was held. The family also released balloons in honor of KJ.

Members from local organizations came to show their support, including members of the Valdosta State University NAACP organization.

Tamelonie Thomas, member of the VSU NAACP, said, “We have been at all of the events. We are here to support the family and the cause.”

Stephanie Martin, a family member, said, “We want justice for KJ. Whatever is done in the dark will come to light and when God shows up, it’s over.”

Intense national media scrutiny has kept the

spotlight on the KJ case following the discovery of Johnson’s body at Lowndes High School in January. Questions surrounding the investigation continue to haunt the family, who is seeking answers in order to lay their son to rest.

“We wanted to celebrate not only his birthday, but his memory. We are here to celebrate Kendrick Johnson,” said Lydia Tooley Johnson, KJ’s aunt. “We would like to extend our thanks and appreciation for the support and prayers from those that are standing behind the family and also thank you to everyone for coming out today.”