As writers, we like to focus on certain topics. For me, I have always focused on sports and moments in life that can help others grow as individuals. However, as a writer, you also have to know when to put your topics of choice aside and focus on a more pressing idea. Everyone who knows me knows I love sports and going deep into the information whether it's about Alabama or how Tom Brady defied so many people and continues to do so but this week I think it's time to focus on a different situation. That situation is the school shooting that happened last week in Parkland, Florida.
We have seen the news reports, the Facebook posts and of course most recently the walkouts and before we just look at this as another person telling us what is wrong with America I want you to look at this as something else. I’m not here to say my political affiliation or what we need to do about guns, but what I do want to say is how this hit close to home for me.
Throughout my life, I have been lucky enough to call a huge group of friends my close and best friends many of which came from the camp Ramah Darom. Of those friends, many of them are from Florida, particularly the Miami and Boca Raton area. Boca Raton is 15 minutes away from Parkland which is why this story starts to get scary for me. Seeing the news about accidents or certain events sometimes I would just half listen to, but seeing something of this magnitude opened my eyes and my eyes were opened even more after receiving an email from my father.
In the email, my father states how of the 17 victims killed, 5 of the victims were Jewish including a teacher named Scott Beigel, who sacrificed himself for his students. Hearing this made me break down. While I didn’t know these students just thinking of people similar to me losing their lives in something this tragic made me think of all my friends I made at Ramah and how it could’ve been any of them.
One of the victims, Alyssa Alhadeff, was an alum of the Jewish camp Coleman which is a camp near to my camp Ramah Darom. Realizing people who knew and had a connection with her is hard to fathom especially at a young age. After losing one of my campers almost two months ago I still have trouble putting into words how I feel, but for friends or anyone close to Alyssa, this still hurts.
A few days ago one of my good friends from Ramah wrote an article about that day and as I reread the article I can't help but get emotional. Sometimes we forget about certain events but this one will be on my mind even though I didn’t have a direct relationship with the school. When I was 16 in my first soccer game of the year I wrote the name Jack Pinto on one arm and the time he lived on the other. Jack Pinto was one of the children murdered at Sandy Hook and I wanted to honor a victim in a way that I could. Writing this article makes me think back to the time I honored Jack and now I hope I get to honor the victims from Stoneman Douglas.
While the event is in the past it isn’t something we should forget and it will be something I won't forget. 15 minutes away from my friends it still scares me to think about that and while it will take time for the community to heal they need all the help they can get. The more I think about this the more real it gets, and the more I am just left terrified.