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March 3, 2013
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The love lives on

EDWARDS, Colorado - Rachel Joy Scott was a senior at Columbine High School, having lunch with a friend on the lawn outside the library that warm spring day when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold started killing classmates.

Rachel had known Klebold since kindergarten, but that didn't stop them from making her their first Columbine murder victim.

Not long before that dark day, Rachel wrote in her diary, "I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People will never know how far a little kindness can go."

She was right.

Rachel's life is over, but her love lives on.

Rachel's Challenge is one of the nation's largest school-based character-development programs. More than 2,200 schools were part of the Rachel's Challenge program last year alone.

Rachel's Challenge helps students replace acts of violence, bullying and negativity with respect, kindness and compassion. It was originally aimed at teenagers but has been expanded to include their parents and the rest of the community.

"In the past 24 months, 500 teen suicides and seven school shootings were averted nationally because of Rachel's Challenge," said Scott Mayeux, national director of business development.

Each day, 160,000 students do not go to school because they are bullied, teased and harassed, according to data Mayeux provided.

At Columbine, 13 people were murdered. When Adam Lanza murdered 27 people in Newtown, Conn., the Rachel's Challenge crew were among the only ones who knew how it felt.

"The pain of their loss is indescribable, and we can only encourage them to lean on the support of their community and loved ones in dealing with this tragedy," the group said in a statement.

Rachel's Challenge is based on the 17 year-old's writings and life. It was started by Rachel's dad and stepmom, Darrell and Sandy Scott, after they said they realized Rachel's writings and drawings influenced her friends and classmates, as well as students around the world.

The Scott family said they knew Rachel's story would inspire others to make their world a better place.

Almost 20 million people have heard Rachel's message, more than 2 million each year, Mayeux said.

The results are measurable, Mayeux said.

After seeing Rachel's Challenge, 78 percent of students indicated they would intervene to stop a bullying incident in their school.

Mayeux said in the past three years, Rachel's Challenge has received nearly 500 unsolicited emails from students stating that after hearing Rachel's story, they reached out for help as they were contemplating suicide. Some even state that "Rachel saved their life," Mayeux said.

When Rachel was murdered, her younger brother, Craig, was in the Columbine High School library where most of the killings occurred. He survived unharmed.

After the killings, Rachel's car was turned into a flower-shrouded memorial in the adjacent Clement Park after being moved from the school's parking lot by grieving students.

Rachel Scott's funeral, April 24, 1999, was attended by more than 2,000 people and was televised nationally. More people watched Rachel's funeral than watched Princess Diana's.

Rachel's life is over, but her love lives on.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.


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The VailDaily Updated Mar 3, 2013 11:35PM Published Mar 3, 2013 11:33PM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.