Rachel’s Challenge brings Deerfield students to tears
Sarah Solovy (center) gets a tissue to help with her tears Friday after listening to the story of Rachel Scott, the first Columbine shooting victim and the reason for the Rachel's Challenge campaign. | Michelle LaVigne ~ Sun-Times Media
• More than 18 million people in 10 countries have heard Rachel’s story.
• About three million people will hear Rachel’s story in 2012 alone.
• Chuck Norris is a celebrity ambassador for Rachel’s Challenge.
Source: Larry Scott
Updated: December 9, 2012 6:15AM
DEERFIELD — Amid many tears Friday, Caruso Middle School students, teachers and parents shared hugs and “I love you” wishes.
The entire student body had just spent an hour listening to Columbine High School shooting victim Rachel Scott’s uncle recap that tragic April morning in 1999.
Larry Scott explained that his niece, 17-year-old Rachel Scott, was the first victim shot in the Littleton, Co. school shooting. The two gunmen ultimately killed 12 students, one teacher and injured nearly 30 more before taking their own lives. Scott said the gunmen acted in retaliation for being treated badly by their peers.
But Scott wasn’t at Caruso last week to share a grim history lesson; he was there to bring positivity.
After Rachel died, Scott said his brother discovered essays and diary entries from Rachel, and her vision to start a “chain of reaction through kindness.” The next year, in 2000, Rachel’s father and his brother, Larry Scott, set out on a campaign to share Rachel’s dream with students across America. They call it Rachel’s Challenge.
Scott said they encourage others to live Rachel’s dream for her, by simply acting kind to their classmates. Scott told the student body that Rachel and her brother, Craig, had argued that fateful morning on the way to school. He said that was the last time Craig saw his sister alive.
“I’m just thinking because me and my mom fight all the time,” seventh-grader Tyler Jensen said through tears. “Last night we were in a fight.”
Jensen said he didn’t know much about the Columbine shooting before Friday, but said he plans to research it, and take part in Rachel’s Challenge.
“It’s important to share this, because I see people get bullied all the time,” Jensen said.
Sloan Polisner, who also was moved to tears, said Scott’s presentation “really touched my heart.”
“I’m crying right now,” the eighth-grader said. “It makes me so sad how her parents never realized that it would be (Rachel’s) last day.”
Polisner said she had been bullied in the past, and appreciates what Rachel’s Challenge teaches others about kindness.
“I know what it’s like to be put down,” Polisner said. “Anytime I see my friends sad I always try to help them. It makes me sad that this happens all over the world, and I don’t want it to happen.”
That type of reaction to Rachel’s story is exactly what the Scott family envisioned.
“I just love telling Rachel’s story,” Larry Scott said. “If there’s ever a message today that needs to be spoken, it’s this message of kindness.”
Scott said his son was in a part of the school away from the gunmen on the day of the shooting. His daughter, however, was in the cafeteria when the gunmen opened fire.
“She was one of the 200 who had to run out for their lives,” Scott said.
For more information about Rachel’s Challenge, visit www.RachelsChallenge.org.