Written Across My Heart: For Sandy Hook Promise | Kevin McClave’s Fundraiser

I launched a fundraiser on my daughter’s 9th birthday. It will run through December 14, 2015.

Miley was 6-years-old and in 1st grade on December 14, 2012. As we sat a safe distance away from the unfolding events in Newtown, I felt a sad affinity for those parents who weren’t as lucky as we were. As lucky as we are. Make no mistake, luck is all that separates us from them.

I’ve written about this in previous entries. It’s something I know I will carry with me for the rest of my days.

Generally speaking, this Crowdrise fundraiser supports Sandy Hook Promise. No matter how much is raised, that goal will be reached.

I wanted to try and really stretch, though.

If we reach the $5,000 goal I have set for this fundraiser, I will get a tattoo, specially designed (TBD), that incorporates the Sandy Hook School logo, a heart, and the number “26.” This tattoo will be inked over my heart. Forever.

I am 51- years-old. I have no tattoos, nor do I want any otherwise. I do, however, carry with me the events of December 14th, 2012. I remind myself daily how lucky we are. The tattoo will simply be a visible symbol of that.

I will pay for (or perhaps have time & talent donated for) the tattoo. None of the proceeds from this fundraiser will be used for that.

If we hit $20,000 for Sandy Hook Promise, I will also have the 26 names of those lost at Sandy Hook tattooed down my arms. 13 on each arm. Forever.

These are very aggressive goals, but Sandy Hook Promise is doing very important work.

Sandy Hook Promise is a national non-profit organization founded and led by several family members whose loved ones were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.

Based in Newtown, Connecticut, its intent is to honor all victims of gun violence by turning tragedy into transformation.

SHP uses a multi-faceted slate of programs and practices, centered around issues of mental health, anti-isolationism, gun safety, advocacy, and policy, in an attempt to protect children and prevent the senseless, tragic loss of life.

I will say again, and I can’t say enough, that the only thing that separates those of us with our loves still with us, from those who have suffered unspeakable loss, is pure dumb luck. I am lucky. I hope you are lucky, too. I believe with that luck comes a responsibility.

Thank you for your help.


From The Darkness Of Hate To The Light Of Hope

The Lorraine MotelI had the opportunity, for the first time, to visit Memphis, TN last year. One of the places I knew I had to visit was the Lorraine Motel, the assassination site of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and as importantly, now the site of the National Civil Rights Museum.

To say that standing in the parking lot, below the balcony in front of room 306, was poignant would be ridiculously understated. There probably aren’t enough words to describe exactly what it was, emotionally, to be there. Suffice it to say, that it was smaller than I imagined, and still echoing the cries of millions.

The thing is, at a spot where we experienced one of the darkest moments in our history here in the United States, there was light everywhere. The employees, the volunteers, the visionaries who created and run the NCRM have wrestled away the darkness from this place, and shone a light of hope and equality and freedom for everyone.

I took my time on my trip through the museum. I went alone, which somehow seemed right for this first time visit. I made my way through the exhibits. I stared for a long time in to the window of the preserved room where Dr. King spent his last hours on Earth (he liked coffee as much as I do, it appears). I learned. I felt guilty. I felt proud.

At the end of my self-guided tour, on the advice of a helpful and friendly volunteer there, I went in to the little theater and watched a short documentary film. As the lights came up at the end,  I had to compose myself for a few moments before I could go back out in to the world.

Directed by Adam Pertofsky and nominated for an Academy Award a couple of years ago,The Witness: From the Balcony of Room 306 is a riveting account of Dr. King’s trip to Memphis in support of striking sanitation workers, and in particular the man who was the only one on the balcony with him when he was shot, Reverend Samuel “Billy” Kyles. Dr. Kyles is as inspirational to me in this film as is Dr. King. He has carried forth these four decades a heavy burden, to bear witness, and he has done it well. I hope one day I have the chance to meet him and to thank him for the way he has lived his life.

On my way out the door I thanked the volunteer who had recommended I see the film and told him I was bringing a copy home so my kids could see it, too.

Those of us who have it better than those who came before us, have an obligation to pass along a world that is better than we found it. We’re 40+ years on now, and plenty of us are still not “judged by the content of our character.” To say that we have not come a long way would be wrong, but to pretend we don’t still have a long way to go would be just as wrong.

We need to actively keep the dream alive. We need to keep The National Civil Rights Museum a tangible touchstone for us, and our kids, and their kids, and theirs.

In the months leading up to my Memphis trip last year I had become aware of and joined www.crowdrise.com. Co-founded by actor Edward Norton (American History X, Fight Club), Crowdrise is essentially a social networking site for the greater good.

Upon discovering it, I immediately began to realize that Crowdrise is a great tool to bring critical mass to critical issues. Still, for my first attempt at participation there via my own “project,” I wanted to ensure I did something that would first and foremost resonate strongly with me.

After visiting the NCRM, it was clear what my first project would be.

They say you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been. Nowhere is that more true than in Memphis, TN at the National Civil Rights Museum, where “they will never, ever kill the dream.”

http://www.crowdrise.com/20for20yearsthenatio/fundraiser/KPMcClave

“Martin Luther King didn’t die in some foolish way. He didn’t overdose. He wasn’t shot by a jealous lover. He wasn’t shot leaving the scene of a crime. He was a man with an earned PhD degree at 28, a Nobel Peace Prize . . . Oratorical skills off the charts. All the things he could have been, U.N. ambassador, big churches all over America. He could have been a university president. All the things he could have been, and here he is with all these skills, dying on a balcony in Memphis, Tennessee, helping garbage workers.” ~Rev. Samuel “Billy” Kyles