ST. GEORGE – When horrific things happen, it’s difficult to see through the pain and imagine any good coming of it. Yet, that’s just what Darrell Scott did after his 17-year-old daughter Rachel was killed in one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history at Columbine High School in Colorado.
Darrell Scott turned the horrific tragedy of his daughter’s death into one of the most inspiring real-life stories of its kind by founding “Rachel’s Challenge,” a nonprofit national school outreach program for the prevention of teen violence.
Rachel’s uncle, Larry Scott, whose own two children were also at Columbine that day, visited Pine View High School in St. George Wednesday to equip and inspire every person to replace acts of violence, bullying and negativity with acts of respect, kindness and compassion in their school, business and community.
An unforgotten tragic day
On April 20, 1999, two Columbine High School seniors set off bombs at their school and began shooting at anyone in their path in what became one of the bloodiest mass shootings in American history, wars excepted.
By the end of the deadly rampage, the two boys had killed 12 classmates and one teacher, and wounded 24 more students before taking their own lives.
“It’s a day I will never forget as long as I live,” Larry Scott said. “It’s a day I hope you guys never have to see. My videos can’t show it, my words can’t tell it – how bad it really was.
This happened because of two boys. Two boys that were angry at the world and yes, they had been bullied. You know what they wrote in their diaries? ‘We’re gonna get you back’ because they wanted revenge for what had happened to them.
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Videocast by Kimberly Scott and Samantha Tommer, St. George News
Touching millions of people’s hearts
“These hands belong to Rachel Joy Scott and will someday touch millions of people’s hearts,” Rachel inscribed on the back of her bedroom dresser as a child. With the help of her family, Rachel’s dreams and wishes have been made a reality as she continues to lift people’s hearts, even after her death.
Since the inception of Rachel’s Challenge, more than 17 million people have heard Rachel’s story in live settings around the world.
“We haven’t saturated America yet,” Larry Scott said, “but we’re hoping to. We’re in 13 other countries besides the United States. We have 54 speakers that travel around the world to tell this story and I’m one of the three family members that do it.”
A chain reaction of kindness
Rachel was an inspired writer and diary keeper. A month before her death she wrote:
I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People will never know how far a little kindness can go.
Rachel’s own acts of kindness and compassion, along with the profound contents of her diaries, inspired her family to start a nationwide chain reaction of kindness in her honor. The presentation profiles Rachel’s life and shares a powerful message about character and the acceptance of others.
“Give people three chances,” Rachel wrote in her journal, “before you dare judge them.”
Her inspired words offer a simple, yet powerful way to show kindness and be accepting of others, while motivating all to consider their relationships with the people they come in contact with every day.
Rachel’s Challenge focuses on five challenges:
- Look for the best in others
- Dream big
- Choose positive influences
- Speak with kindness
- Start your own chain reaction
Larry Scott’s message encouraged the audience to eliminate prejudice from their lives and to tell the people in their lives that they are loved.
At the end of the presentation, audience members were encouraged to “take the challenge” and commit to leading a life rooted in kindness and compassion.
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