JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– Next month the nation will join Colorado in commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Columbine massacre. Former students who survived the shooting have been working with survivors of gun violence.
Soon, some of those survivors will visit Parkland, Fla. to offer “peer support” to the community after last year’s deadly shooting claimed the lives of 17 students and staff.
On April 20, 1999, two gunmen killed 12 students and one teacher at Columbine High School in Jefferson County. The gunmen turned the guns on themselves. At the time, it was considered the worst school shooting in modern history.
The Colorado delegation includes a representative of the Aurora theater shooting as well as those from Columbine.
The previously planned trip comes after two people who had survived the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School attack, took their own lives within a week.
What happened in Parkland Florida is tragically similar to what happened at Columbine. Heather Martin and Missy Mendo know. They were students 20 years ago when the shooting happened at Columbine.
Heather told CBS4’s Rick Sallinger, “In first years you are trapped in what you are experiencing you can’t see light at end of tunnel.”
They found that light through helping others. After the Aurora theater shooting, where a dozen people were killed and more than 50 others injured in July 2012, they helped form The Rebels Project, named after the Columbine Rebels assisting others however they can.
“Now we hold monthly support meetings we travel to impacted communities meet survivors and hold annual gathering flying survivors to Colorado.”
In just a week’s time, two survivors of the Florida school shooting took their own lives. A 19-year-old, whose family said she had survivors guilt, and a 16-year-old student.
After Columbine, there were at least two known suicides, a male survivor and the mother of badly injured student.
Missy Mendo of The Rebels Project said, “It’s almost like you can say, ‘This is what i did, this is what you can do and I’m here for you’ and it’s very relieving.”
They are also in touch with members of the Sandy Hook, Conn. A father of one of the students who died recently took his life.