They Made a Hero’s Choice

29 year-old Rachel D’Avino had her life ahead of her: she’s a behavioral therapist who was about to finish her doctorate and her boyfriend was supposed to propose to her on Christmas Eve. D’Avino’s life was just starting to unfold, but a deadly school shooting killed her and her bright tomorrow away.

Rachel D’Avino was one of the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. The massacre, which is dubbed as the second-deadliest school shooting in US history, claimed the lives of 26 people, including 20 first-graders and 6 adult staff members.

On December 14, 2012 lone gunman, 20 year-old Adam Lanza forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School at around 9:40 am wearing black military-style gear and started shooting using two handguns and a semi-automatic rifle. Before 10 o’clock, approximately 50-100 rounds had been fired and 26 were dead. The victims were students (eight boys and twelve girls) and six women school leaders. Lanza later shot himself in the head as police arrived. Before his rampage at Sandy Hook,  the disturbed video game fanatic shot and killed his 52 year-old mother, Nancy Lanza as she lay sleeping in bed.

Though tragic, stories of heroism and love from Sandy Hook’s school teachers touched a lot of us. In a world where the ‘self’ comes first, noble teachers who put their students’ safety ahead of theirs are what make heroes. Some of the dead were the teachers who tried their best to keep everyone safe.

"The victims of Sandy Hook Massacre"

Faces with names of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre victims (Photo Credit: http://globalgrind.com)

Among those who died were School Principal Dawn Hochsprung, 27 year-old teacher Victoria Soto, 30 year-old teacher Lauren Gabrielle Rousseau, school psychologist Mary Sherlach, and little angels ages six to seven years old including Jessica Rekos, Daniel Barden, Olivia Engel, Benjamin Wheeler, Noah Pozner and Grace Audrey McDonnell to name a few.

The promising lives each soul could have lived had ended, but not for naught.

One thing we have no control of is the time tragedy strikes. There is no way to undo what has happened. It has struck a chord in everyone’s heart this winter. The best we can do is continue living life with optimism and faith that this too shall pass and everything will be alright.

"Sandy Hook Elementary School mourners"

People gave flowers and lit candles in honor of the Sandy Hook massacre victims(Photo credit: http://abcnews.go.com)

Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims, to the bereaved families, and to the community of Newtown, Connecticut – that in the midst of this trying time, they may find strength in one another and may find light in the darkness that briefly surrounded them.

We grieve for the unnecessary loss of lives.  Sad and heart crushing situations often serve as an awakening for everybody. Life is fragile, no one knows what can happen next. It is up to us the living to make life matter, not only for our own but for the thousands who are helpless and dependent on the help only another person can give.

There are opportunities in our lifetime where we can save lives without the danger. Blood donation is a worthy cause to champion, knowing a pint can save 3 lives. We don’t need to wait till something like the Sandy Hook massacre to happen before we are convinced to make a bold step in saving lives.

No matter what we do, our lives are the only thing we have. We wake up each day not knowing when it’ll be our last; but we have the choice to live the best way we can. No matter how small the gesture, helping others go on living is a great way to spend the time you have left.

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