Cincinnati siblings launch foundation in honor of father who died on Thanksgiving (WLWT5)

Updated: May 18, 2020

Three Cincinnati siblings are carrying on their father's legacy, launching a foundation to support children being raised in single parent households.

Thanksgiving is always a bittersweet holiday for the Dorris family. They lost their father, Mark Dorris Sr., on Thanksgiving Day 1997.


Twenty-two years later, Mark Dorris Jr., Mike Dorris and Jontae Johnson are channeling their grief into good.

The three were 10, 7 and 12 when they suddenly lost their dad.

"He went to play basketball with some of his friends. Story goes he went up and down the court a few times," said Mark Dorris Jr. "He ended up having a massive heart attack and died on the spot."

"Which is ironic. We still ran towards the sport," Dorris Jr. said.

Dorris Jr. went on to play college basketball and then overseas for a decade. Mike also played college basketball.

Dorris Sr. had played college basketball at the University of Cincinnati from 1980 to 1984. He later coached and became a truancy officer, helping children stay in school and even buying some alarm clocks.

"Those negatives can be turned to positives and you really make a difference in the community, within the world," said Mike Dorris.

The siblings credit their mom Annette with their success. After their father's sudden death, she raised them as a single mother, even returning to school at one point. All three went on to college.

The siblings are launching the Leave Your Mark foundation in memory of their father, making sure other single-parent families have the crucial financial, physical and emotional support they need.

"Make sure they have school supplies every year, make sure they have turkey and Thanksgiving dinner and make sure they have a Christmas gift under the tree, but more importantly, we want to make sure they have the mentorship from us," said Dorris Jr. "The Leave Your Mark foundation is in memory of him, but it'd dedicated to children that have lost a parent and/or parents to death or incarceration."

Dorris Sr. instilled in his children that they were destined for greatness.

"He literally left his mark, and it's on us to take it to the next level and to basically pay it forward," Dorris Jr. said.

"It really starts with just people being kind to one another and that sense of community and love," Johnson said.

To kick off the foundation, a launch event is planned for New Year's Eve. The event, the Royal Gatsby, is a Great Gatsby-themed party at Carnegie Hall in Newport with live music, DJs and dancing.

Tickets start at $85 and can be ordered at the link.

Anyone interested in donating to the cause or getting involved can contact the Dorrises at the official Leave Your Mark Facebook page.

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