Project HardKnocks: Late Chicago South Sider Dashaun Harris’ legacy kept alive through local nonprofit

CHICAGO — Last summer, 24-year-old Dashaun Harris was shot and killed in the South Loop. Before his untimely death, Harris was the CEO and founder of the unofficial non-profit, Project HardKnocks. The initial mission of Project HardKnocks was to host a food drive on Thanksgiving.

“He created it five years back. Pretty much, he just saw a lot of problems throughout our community and stepped up to help,” said Nersa Backstrom, Harris’ friend and Project HardKnocks organizer.

Now, instead of mourning in silence, Harris’ family and friends are turning tragedy into a legacy by continuing the work of his nonprofit.

Last Thanksgiving, with the help of close to 200 volunteers, Project HardKnocks donated winter clothes to several local nonprofits and fed the homeless on the city’s South Side.

Harris’ friend and Project HardKnocks organizer Brian Simmons said the goal now is to transform Project HardKnocks into an official nonprofit.

“We have to keep doing exactly what he was already doing and grow this as big as we possibly can to impact as many people as we possibly can because that’s what he did when he was here,” Simmons said.

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