Voices from Newtown

A Special Episode of “Katie” on Reflection, Remembrance And This Community’s Commitment to Honoring the Loved Ones They Lost

Almost three months after the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Katie returns to the Connecticut community to remember those who were lost and to host a conversation about how this tragedy may be able to inspire change.

The formerly idyllic community of Newtown, Connecticut is still trying to regain a sense of normalcy after the unthinkable tragedy last December. The citizens and survivors are dealing with a pain so fresh and a grief so profound that they are healing by leaning on each other. Nicole Hockley lost her six-year-old son, Dylan, and Bill Sherlach lost his wife of 31 years, Mary, the school psychologist.

“He was six, so I’ll never know what he could have become.” -Nicole Hockley

Daniel_Barden_video_300Two days after the horrific shooting, Katie traveled to Newtown and met Mark and Jackie Barden, who lost their seven-year-old son, Daniel. Katie stayed in touch with Mark and Jackie as they begin their process of grief and healing.

Wendy Davenson is a therapist who has been working with the residents of Newtown. She explains how the families and survivors are coping with the enormous grief and trauma.

“You have to redefine yourself, redefine the term family.”-Wendy Davenson

Ana_Grace_video_30020 of the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook shooting were children. Among them was six-year-old Ana Grace Márquez-Greene, a little adventurous girl who loved music, dancing and people.

David and Francine Wheeler also lost their beloved child that day, six year-old Benjamin. What can the nation do to help these grieving parents and what do the Wheelers hope can come out of this tragedy?

“I always want to talk about Ben forever.” -Francine Wheeler

Avielle_Richman_video_300It’s been three months since the tragedy in Newtown, and many families are just beginning to process the pain of losing their children. Jeremy Richman and his wife Jennifer lost their six-year-old daughter Avielle, and for them, the reality is only just beginning to sink in.

While it may be impossible for most of us to fathom the depths of the pain the families in Newtown feel, Colin Goddard and Sandy Phillips understand that pain all too well. Colin Goddard was shot four times during the shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007. Sandy Phillips lost her daughter in the Aurora movie theater shooting seven months ago.

“We just wanted to let some of these people know they are not alone.” -Colin Goddard

Chase_Kowalski_video_300Rebecca and Steve Kowalski are another Newtown family who have a suffered profound loss – the loss of their seven-year-old son, Chase, who they call the light of their lives.

The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a tipping point in our nation, heightening the focus on gun control and mental health. Adam Winkler, a law professor at UCLA, and Dr. Paul Applebaum, a professor at Columbia University, talk about the impact Sandy Hook has had on this national debate.

“It’s incredibly easy to buy a gun.” -Adam Winkler

Lauren_Rousseau_video_300Lauren Rousseau was a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and one of the six adults killed in the shooting. She was just 30-years-old, and for her, teaching was a dream come true.

Lee Shull is a co-founder of Sandy Hook Promise, an organization dedicated to honoring the victims. Lee talks about the promise the Newtown community had made and the change that the organization hopes to inspire.

“We want to see change in our nation.” -Lee Shull

The promise Newtown made states that the community will do everything in its power to be remembered “not as the town filled with grief and victims, but as the place where real change began.” Katie ended the show with that message of hope, and with the children of Newtown singing the song, “My Beautiful Town.” It’s a reminder that the only way out of our darkest hours is through a sense of community.

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