Columbine Tragedy: 20 years later

‘We see a thousand minds transformed’

Darrell and Sandy Scott, parents of victim Rachel Scott

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Rachel Scott’s life ended in 1999, but her spirit of compassion continues to save the lives of others around the world.

Rachel’s parents, Darrell and Sandy Scott, run Rachel’s Challenge, a program that spreads their daughter’s principles of love and understanding far and wide.

“We always miss her, but we get to celebrate her life every day,” Sandy said. “She could’ve lived to be 90 years old and she might not have had this kind of impact. And this is what she wanted: to make a difference in the world. And she’s doing it.”

Rachel’s Challenge had its origins in testimony Darrell gave before Congress a month after Columbine, with a powerful speech that remains popular today.

“By the time I got home, I was invited to 40 major events,” Darrell said. “For two years I traveled to football stadiums, hockey arenas — I spoke in front of tens of thousands of people. We began to realize the impact of Rachel’s story on young lives. We met with educators and began to form the program.”

The program includes a series of challenges, drawn from Rachel’s diaries, that push kids to rid themselves of prejudice and find compassion for each other.

Today, Rachel’s Challenge has 50 presenters who travel the world speaking to students. Darrell estimates they’ve been in front of 28 million kids.

The numbers may be big, but the effects are personal and intimate.

“We hear from more than 150 kids a year who planned to commit suicide, but changed their minds after our programming,” Darrell said.

Spreading love is a great privilege, Darrell said, though he wishes it drew wider attention from the media.

“We see a thousand minds transformed in one school,” Darrell said. “Bullies are crying, kids are helping one another, and it gets maybe a blip in the news. Then, somebody says something nasty to someone else, and they’ll get 30 minutes.”

Darell said he takes to heart something Rachel wrote just a month before she died: “Compassion is the greatest form of love humans have to offer.”

Columbine

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