Loved ones remember local nonprofit leader who died in car crash Sunday night
Friends and loved ones are remembering the life of a beloved community leader who died in a car crash on Sunday.
Andre Debonaire McNeal died in a car crash on I-94 in Minneapolis Sunday night while friends believe he was on his way home.
“He was the soul of a man. He was just a good person and what he did for this community will be remembered,” Laverne McCartney Knighton, St. Paul resident, said. “His memory will become our treasure and I think we will honor him in whatever way we can.”
McNeal spent most of his time pouring into others.
“He just did it out of the goodness of his heart,” McCartney Knighton said. “He really wanted to celebrate people and honor them.”
McNeal celebrated her with a “Mother of the Village” award in May 2022 to honor her leadership in the community.
He wore many hats as an esteemed event promoter, comedian and mentor.
“He believed in a better community. He believed in making things better for young people,” McCartney Knighton said. “He wanted to make things better for young boys who needed that male figure in their life or a mentor that could keep them on the right path.”
He dedicated his life to bettering others.
In 2015, McNeal launched the Doorstep Foundation — a program that connects at-risk male teens and kids with mentors in their community.
Within the last few days, the lives he touched received phone calls they won’t forget.
“I couldn’t get my head wrapped around it. I was grieving and I was hurting,” McCartney Knighton said.
People he mentored got the news and immediately felt the void.
“It hasn’t quite fully hit me,” Adrian Perryman, who was mentored by McNeal, said.
Perryman explained McNeal helped him make a name for himself as he started a career as a DJ in college.
“It always felt nice to have someone who respected you and thought you were useful and can contribute to what was going on,” Perryman said. “There’s so many of us that have learned from him on how to carry ourselves within the industry.”
Loved ones and mentees described McNeal as someone to lean on who showed up for his community.
Now, those he inspired are hoping to carry on his legacy.
“I try and follow in his footsteps and try and make it easier for the next generation,” Perryman said. “He definitely did that for me. He opened doors.”
The family spokesperson said the Doorstep Foundation’s work will continue in the Twin Cities.
There will be an opportunity for people to donate to the cause in the coming days.