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.


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Somebody’s Coming Home

Heart in HandDecember 14, 2012 was the longest day of my life. This isn’t a new revelation for me or for anyone who knows me, but it is one I wanted to revisit today. Especially today.

In the year before that pre-Christmas Friday 2 years ago, I had started to really dig the music of Nathan Bell. I had stumbled across a glowing review of his then-new acoustic album Black Crow Blue, but it was Crow’s self-released predecessors In Tune, On Time, Not Dead and Traitorland that grabbed me first.

Nathan’s work earns the sort of obsessive behavior I put in listening to those 3 albums. His songs are well crafted and True. I love his guitar playing, as well. His art fits very well in my hierarchy of things.

I loved (and still love) a good number of the songs I downloaded from Amazon. I listened to a lot of them a lot of the time. One of my favorites was “Somebody’s Coming Home” from Traitorland. It spoke to me immediately as a father. Listen to the song and that’s an obvious response.

As I sat a safe distance away from Newtown on 12/14, watching, listening, reading with sorrow as the bad news became worse and the worse news became unthinkable, “Somebody’s Coming Home” was forever transformed from one of my favorite songs to my song of thanksgiving.

The wait for that “big yellow school bus” to come around the bend with our own 6-year-old first grader on board was difficult to say the least. I promised myself two things: I would never forget, and I would be mindfully thankful. Thank you to Nathan for writing a song that helps me do both:

 Happy Thanksgiving. May everyone you love come home.

My Most Important Job

I have known since I was very young that the most important thing I would ever do, should I be so blessed to have the opportunity, was to be a good father.

Fatherhood, parenthood, is sometimes about hard choices. It’s about consistency and a 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week vigilance. It is the constant push and pull of knowing when to pull close and when to let go. In grand strokes, it’s about striving to make the world better for our kids, while helping them to grow to be a constructive presence in that better world.

Reading an op ed from Sandy Hook dads Mark Barden and David Wheeler this morning, I was reminded again of something David had said in the unthinkable days following the events of December 14, 2012. As a father, they are words that rang deep and true for me. They are words I have tried to push down when they come up, at least to some degree, so as not to be swallowed whole by them.

In talking about the loss of his 6-year-old son Ben, and good intentioned people telling him and wife Francine that they “can’t imagine” the pain the parents were enduring, David said that he wants us all to be able to imagine it. That only in imagining it will we create the will for truly transformational change.

That is the thing that dares not speak its name.

The truth is, I haven’t been very successful at avoiding my own imagination. I am most often aware of how lucky we are, how lucky I am, and of the general fragility of life. Other times, out of nowhere, I am stricken cold by a flash of what could happen.

Yet, we must imagine.

It wasn’t until members of Congress could look in to the already-gone eyes of a dying Robert Kennedy that they broke a deadlock and acted to pass the Gun Control Act of 1968.

I’m sure you have seen the statistic. As I write this, there have been 74 school shootings since December 14, 2012. One thing that the Sandy Hook shootings accomplished was to create a more active and mobilized gun control movement. Organizations like Sandy Hook Promise, Everytown for Gun Safety, and Mom’s Demand Action are acting as centralized points of activism and unified protest.

Even more than the cohesive effort, however, this ongoing battle requires courage.

We have unfortunately seen too often courage from victims’ families in the sheer will of facing another day, and trying to create something good from something so horrible. We must all be courageous. We must, as RFK put it, risk the “disapproval of our fellows.” Most importantly, we must be courageous enough to imagine the unimaginable.

We must change.

Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there. May our children live in a safer and more just world.

How Miley Got Her Name

I originally wrote this last June 23rd. The RailRiders and IL Hall of Fame manager Dave Miley are in town again (though rained out tonight), so I figured I would post it here. Rain threw a monkey wrench in to our hope of saying hi last year. We’ll try again this season.

Miley Andra McClave, June 7, 2008.I’ve never really landed on a quick way to explain how baseball manager Dave Miley “inspired” our daughter Miley’s name. She wasn’t “named after him” in a traditional sense, yet my respect for him certainly played a role in leading us to the name. Because we are taking Miley to see Miley against the Syracuse Chiefs tonight, I figured it would be as good a time as any to explain the connection, for those who care and don’t already know.

I appreciate and respect loyalty and excellence.

As a Cincinnati Reds fan, that means I fully appreciated and respected Dave Miley’s years of service in their system. I thought they’d unfairly passed him over at least once, and maybe twice, before he  finally got the call to the Majors to manage in 2003. I’m a dog with a bone when I find something I respect and like and so I was one of his most vocal supporters back then. When I said hello to him at a Chiefs game earlier in that 2003 season, I even asked him if he wanted a Major League job. That he wasn’t interested was the only reason I could imagine for his not having yet had the chance.

Dave Miley autographI’m sorry it didn’t work out better for him in the long run. As will happen to virtually every manager eventually, Dave was fired by the Reds a couple of years later and has been with the Yankees as their AAA manager ever since. Doing what he does. Winning.

When my wife Jenna got pregnant in 2006, we had a tough time picking a name. We wanted something unique but not weird, paired with a middle name that meant something. At one point, out of ideas and ways to create new ones, we just decided to play free association and started naming things around us…”McDonald’s McClave,” “Toyota McClave…”. It was sort of tongue in cheek.

I jokingly, or so I thought, said “Miley McClave!”

Miley Andra McClave was born on the morning of October 14, 2006.

So, the story goes that while she wasn’t “named after” Dave Miley in the traditional sense, her name was inspired by a loyal and successful man. Paired with the Scottish name “Andra” which means strong and courageous, we feel we picked a name to which we’ll be happy to have her live up. So far, so good.

We’re hoping to say hi to Dave at the railing before the game tonight. While I hate the Yankees, if they give Dave Miley another shot in the Majors, I promise to root for them with all my heart.