BRIMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WJW) – Turning sadness into a celebration of life, a Northeast Ohio community came together to honor an 11-year old boy killed in a tragic crash one week ago. 

His dream was to play varsity football and although he was not on the field physically, he was certainly there in spirit.

Minutes before the Field High School Falcons took the field against the Streetsboro Rockets in Brimfield Township, there was an emotional tribute to Donald Robinson III.

“Donald loved football and couldn’t wait for his chance to play under the lights on Friday nights. To honor his life, the Falcons will be wearing black helmet decals with the initials DRIII and dedicate this game in his remembrance,” said the game announcer before kickoff.

Donnie, as he was affectionately known, was a sixth grader at Field Middle School and wore number 47 on the Field Youth Varsity team, comprised of 5th and 6th graders in the Field Local School District in Portage County.

“Donnie was an amazing little dude. He had this infectious personality, this smile that, like, there was no way to be angry, no way to be sad around Donnie. The spirit that he had filled our team,” said Randy Porter, Field Youth Varsity coach.

The stadium observed 47 seconds of silence, coinciding with Donnie’s jersey number.

Last Friday morning, Donnie was riding in a car with his father and two siblings when the car went off the road and crashed, ejecting them all from the vehicle. Donnie did not survive.

“He broke his arm in our second week of practice and he was just released to play last Sunday in his first game. He was super excited about that. Friday morning was the accident, so he never got to play in a game with us this season,” said Porter.

Donnie’s mother and numerous family members attended the pre-game ceremony.  She was presented with flowers from a coach from the opposing team.

Signs of love for the 11-year old were everywhere, including in the hearts of varsity players who, Friday night, took the field Donnie had dreamed of playing on one day.

“In all senses of the word, Donnie was an athlete. He was a teammate. He was a friend and he was a brother and son,” Porter said.

According to Coach Porter, Donnie’s mother said her son would want his team to finish the season, and that’s exactly what they plan to do.

“At the time, we were 4-0. Now we’re 5-0 and they want to finish the season for Donnie. They want to do everything they can to honor him,” he said.

The coach says many of Donnie’s teammates, 10 to 12-year-olds, had never dealt with the death of a friend before, so last Saturday, he called the team together with grief counselors.

This Sunday, when the youth varsity team plays, there will be a memorial held for him at halftime of the game.