BENEFITING: SANDY HOOK PROMISE FOUNDATION
ORGANIZER: SANDY HOOK PROMISE FOUNDATION
Why I decided to raise money for Sandy Hook Promise
On June 30th, 2015, a tree branch landed on my head while I was typing grades into my laptop at then end of my school year. A few days earlier, my son's school nurse phoned me at work to report that my kindergartner's head was bleeding; a bully had admitted to slamming his head into the window. After a summer of doctor's orders to lay on my back without screens or texts, I had to find the energy to somehow prove to my insurance company that I needed to rehabilitate. Months later, I gained approval to begin rehabilitation at the Center for Concussion care, and welcomed screens back into my life again, gradually. But the screens I watched brought news of more school shootings. I googled Sandy Hook. How were those parents able to go on?
Finally a google that provided a glimmer of hope: Sandy Hook Promise (SHP)decided to create a grass roots operation called Promise Leaders. It was at that time I became a Promise Leader that I realized the incredible connection between all my worlds converging-I would be a mother to only one child, and that child was bullied at only age 6, the same age 20 first graders were killed by an adolescent in pain, and what could I do to ensure that he would be safe? SHP's Start With Hello program really spoke to me. What if kids at elementary age could learn to just start with hello? I wrote a few puppet shows for my son's first grade elementary class inspired by my own childhood experiences and performed these during Start with Hello Week for 8 first grade classes. I ordered free green rubber bracelets for my son's school from SHP, and in 2016, one year after that branch fell and almost killed me, I was no longer wondering how I could protect my only son's life; I could influence 120 first graders who were the same age as Daniel Barden. Since then, I invited three other schools in my son's district to participate. South Mountain and Jefferson elementary schools launched a poster contest, and Maplewood Middle School signed on to have a free slide presentation led by a Sandy Hook Promise Leader from Connecticut. There are things that heal, like heads that were pushed into glass windows, and traumatic brain injuries, but never fully. How can the unimaginable parent's loss of a child heal? How are those parents moving on with their daily lives with that gaping hole at their dinner table? I've never run a marathon before, but when I was invited to apply for the chance to join the SHP marathon team, I couldn't say no, because I've seen the positive impact that I've directly been able to make for over 2,000 South Orange Maplewood students from the South Orange Maplewood School district, who now know how to Start With Hello, and we can't stop now.