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Rockford teen using community involvement to improve image of hometown

ROCKFORD (WREX) — Daebreon Leach was born and raised on Rockford’s west side.

A life that was nearly cut short at 10 years old after being shot.

“I was in a hospital bed, with a bullet lodged in my leg, thinking I was going to be like my older brother who was shot and killed back in 1996. I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Leach said.

Leach survived the shooting which provided her a new purpose in life.

“Rather than just sitting around and not really wanting to do anything. I put my backstory into what I want to do which is giving back to this community that I love,” Leach said.

The 19 year old is involved with several local organizations including KFACT and Gigi’s Playhouse as well as working as an intern at the Washington Park Community Center.

“Daebreon is definitely a go-getter. She’s very ambitious and I’m very proud to see how she has blossomed over the years,”  Washington Park Recreation Coordinator Kamrin Muhammad said.

Leach’s drive dates back to her junior year of high school where she organized a homeless supply drive, collecting 3,500 hygiene items for the homeless in the area.

“I was all over eBay and Facebook asking people if they had anything to give and, to my surprise, a lot of people messaged back.” Leach said.

Her hard work continued into her senior year, spearheading a fundraiser to get enough money to organize their senior prom at Auburn High School..

“Our former class president messaged me and said we should do an alumni basketball game,” Leach said.

“We had a really good turnout. We went from $0 in our bank account to over $10,000.”

All of the effort Leach puts in is in hopes it will help change the image many people have of Rockford.

“You hear it a lot. Rockford has a lot of crime and it’s not a place you want to go… if you’re not trying to do anything to stop it … you’re just adding fuel to the fire.”

Leach is currently attending college in Memphis, Tennessee and wants to use the time she has back home to show the youth of our area how to take pride in where they grew up.

“I know I can’t reach everybody…but at least if I can reach a few kids, I’ll know that I’m doing my part.”

Leach is studying Criminal Justice in hopes of becoming a family lawyer after school.



Evan Leake

Evan Leake anchors for 13 News Today and 13 News at Noon. Evan grew up in Darien, Illinois, a south-west suburb of Chicago. He came to WREX in 2017 and worked his way to the anchor desk in May of 2019. He coordinates both the Teacher of the Week and Inspiring 815 series for 13 News. You can connect with Evan at or Evan Leake on Facebook.

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