Columbine survivors want to spread inspiring program through Inland NW


by & Jane McCarthy

Posted on September 16, 2011 at 11:53 AM

Updated Friday, Sep 16 at 1:31 PM

KREM 2 supports a national program called ‘Rachel’s Challenge,’ which brings its pro-kindness message to Inland Northwest students.

The program was inspired by a 17-year-old girl killed in the Columbine shootings.

Spokane representative Kevin Parker was a 25-year-old ‘Young Life Leader’ inside Columbine at the time of the tragedy.

Parker and his legislative assistant Ben Okley, who was a sophomore at the school, see a message of hope emerging from the tragic day.

"I remember the day clearly," Parker said.

"I can still picture what I was wearing,” Okley recalled.

“I remember when I was under the table in the cafeteria-- I remember thinking, ‘I don't know if I'll ever see my wife again.  I don't know if I'll ever have a Christmas.’  It caused me to question, to ask questions -- what do I want to do with my life?" Parker said.

It’s no coincidence Parker pursued public service. That day brought into focus the importance of leadership. After the shooting, it is not the gunmen he remembers most, but the guardians.

“As the shooting was starting and as kids were running for their lives, and teachers were as well, I saw and heard wonderful, brilliant moments of leadership. Teachers literally saved kids’ lives, and for me, a high school janitor saved my life.” Parker said.

Parker came to believe sometimes people’s true gifts emerge from tragedy, which is precisely what happened with Darrel Scott, whose daughter Rachel was the first killed in the Columbine tragedy. Darrel’s gift was born from the pain of losing his daughter.

Today, the inspired father travels the world sharing Rachel’s life story in a pro-kindness school program: ‘Rachel’s Challenge.’

Parker and Oakley admire the program that brings students a powerful message about Rachel’s compassion, and the challenge she left just one month before she died.

“I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People will never know how far a little kindness can go,” Rachel wrote before she died.

Oakley and Parker lived through a tragic day and hope more Inland Northwest schools adopt Rachel’s challenge.

"This is the message that we are choosing to take forward, which is a message of hope.  To take care of one another and be there for one another," Oakley said.

If you are interested in bringing ‘Rachel’s Challenge’ to your school, visit our page dedicated to the effort.