On December 14, 2012, twenty-year-old Adam Lanza walked into the Sandy Hook Elementary School, brutally stealing the lives of twenty children and six adults, while plunging a nation into terror.
Now, seven years later, the grief and tragedy still echo in our collective mind, with events like Jeremy Richman’s suicide acting as a reminder of the longstanding effects of Lanza’s incomprehensible actions.
Richman’s six-year-old daughter Avielle was one of twenty first-graders killed in the Sandy Hook Massacre.
Described as a “spitfire” with a love of adventure and a big personality, her death deeply impacted Richman, who created The Avielle Foundation in her honor.
“My wife Jennifer and I are infinitely heartbroken,” he wrote on the organization’s website.
“In the years since the murder of our beautiful six year old daughter, our heartbreak has been repeated with hundreds of school shootings in the United States, not to mention the daily occurrences of homicide and suicide on our streets and in our homes.”
“The Avielle Foundation has been created … to foster an understanding of what leads someone to engage in harmful behavior, the risk factors, and conversely, to identify and engender protective factors that lead away from violence and toward compassion, kindness, connection, community, and resilience.” Sadly, despite these honorable goals, Avielle’s death ultimately took its toll on the grieving father.
Last week, Richman was found outside the Edmond Town Hall, pronounced dead from suicide.
In a statement quoted by NBC News, The Avielle Foundation wrote:
“Our hearts are shattered, and our heads are struggling to comprehend … We are crushed to pieces, but this important work will continue because as Jeremy would say, we have to.”
Richman’s death came just one week after Sydney Aiello, a Parkland shooting survivor, and another student from the Parkland High School also died in an apparent suicides, demonstrating the traumatic effects these types of violence can have on the psyche.
Now, however, a man named Dan Friedman is stepping up to make a difference.
Friedman was recently contacted by his father Rob who manages the Hancock Boston Marathon sponsorship. According to Friedman’s CrowdRise, Rob had one entry he wanted to devote to a philanthropic event, and while mulling it over, news of Richman’s suicide broke. Upon hearing the story, Rob immediately contacted Friedman, asking him to run in Richman’s honor— a request to which his son immediately agreed.
With only a few weeks to train and fundraise, Friedman will be running the Boston Marathon and donating all proceeds to The Avielle Foundation.
In an interview with CBS Boston, Friedman admitted: “I don’t necessarily know what kind of marathon shape I’m in or not, but I think what it is and what it’s for, and the meaning behind it— that really helps. All I have to do is put one foot in front of the other.”
Because of the last-minute sign-up, Friedman notes, “I could be the last person signing up to run the 2019 Boston Marathon. And I sincerely ask you to join my sponsoring my run for a very worthy cause. ”
So far, within only six days, they’ve managed to raise nearly $8,000.
“In memory of Jeremy Richman and his daughter Avielle Rose Richman, I will run the Marathon for the family’s Foundation and a cause that unites good-hearted people. If you can support this effort with a contribution to The Avielle Foundation, I’ll be grateful and honored.”
To learn more about the fundraiser or to donate, please click here.
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