Tuesday, August 28, 2007
She Made Me Really Proud
WARNING: No knitting content in this post, just something I felt the need to share.
About 5 weeks ago, something terrible happened. I won't write names due to privacy and current legal action and the potential of slander/libel charges. ( I always forget if slander or libel is the written one..but I digress). Late one evening, State Troopers chased a drunk driver Southbound down the Glen Highway from Sutton/Palmer. They ended up having to close the highway and put spike strips down to blow his tires and stop him, right around our exit. While arrresting him for drunk driving, the officers found the dead and badly beaten body of a woman in the back seat. The woman turned out to be someone known to our family, a barrel racer from my daughter's club. She was also the mother of one of my daughter's classmates since 2nd grade. She was divorced and had begun dating this man about 4-5 months prior, and had a restraining order against him due to his violence against her....and threats he'd made against her children. This man was actually convicted on a murder charge as a juvenile...
"He was involved in the 1978 murder-for-hire of Air Force Col. Robert Cassell in Eagle River. A minor at the time, _____ was sentenced to two years at McLaughlin Youth Center for his involvement in the murder after attempts to try him as an adult failed" (Alaska Star, August 16)
He is currently incarcerated and awaiting trial on numerous charges stemming from the current incident.
My daughter came home in horror. She'd obviously been discussing this terrible crime with members of the barrel racing community and her classmates. She said she didn't know how to approach the victim's daughter or what she should do or say. She was so angry and indignant and empassioned by this tragedy with all the emotion a 15 year old can muster. I took it as an opportunity to have a big heart-to-heart with her about DV, and gathered written information packages that we use to teach our patients about the cycle of abuse, signs of an abusive relationship, and getting help. My daughter shuffled through the papers and said..."mom, we get all this in school already....I already know this stuff...what I want is to DO SOMETHING"....So, I suggested she discuss it with some of the adult leaders of the barrel racing club or local women's shelter.
And guess what. She set in motion, organized, and now is pulling together a memorial race dedicated to the victim, with entry fee proceeds to go to the family and requesting donations of paper goods, hygiene items, and clothing for the local women's shelters. She also arranged for our local women's shelter to set up a table with DV information and counselors available during the event.
Alaska has the highest rates of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault in the nation. Period. In my line of work, not a week goes by that I don't see and hear terrible stories. Perhaps I've become somewhat inured, feeling that what I do and my little monetary donation to the programs during the holidays is enough.....But it's not. Seeing my daughter's 15 year old passion fueled into action showed me that it's not just about money and talk....You have to get out and DO something to help increase awareness and education.....which is the only way things change. I'm awfully proud of her for doing this. Especially when the only date open for the memorial race conflicted with a pre-scheduled out of state fun trip for her....and with tears in her eyes she shrugged her shoulders and said "I just can't go...this is too important". I hate that she has to be exposed to the ugliness of the world...but I love watching her mature and her character develop. How many 15 year old girls do you know that would do something like this?
And lastly....I encourage any of you who read this to contact your local women's shelters to see what their needs are....and what YOU can do to help. It might be donating a case of toilet paper, or knitting some hats, or something bigger to auction or raffle for fundraising....or (wo)manning an information booth passing out pamphlets.....whatever it is....the power of your actions will help others.