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“A Night Honoring Promise Champions”
Sandy Hook Promise Hosted its 3rd Annual Champions Gala in Washington D.C.
Elected Officials From Across the Aisle United To Support The Gun Violence Prevention Organization In The Shadow Of Recent Tragedies
Newtown, CT - Wednesday June 14th, was an emotional day on Capitol Hill following the shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise and several others, but members of Congress from the across the aisle showed a groundswell of support at Sandy Hook Promise’s 3rd annual Promise Champions Gala event at the Mellon Auditorium.
The event was hosted by Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden, co-Founders and Managing Directors at Sandy Hook Promise (SHP). Hockley’s son Dylan and Mark’s son Daniel were among the 20 first graders and 6 educators killed at the Sandy Hook School tragedy on December 14, 2012.
The event honored men and women from across the country for their work in gun violence prevention and mental health support, including Promise Champions U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) who were honored for their consistent support of common sense efforts to address gun violence.
In 2016, Senator Collins committed to finding common ground with her colleagues on both sides of the aisle to keep guns out of the hands of convicted criminals and those with severe mental illness. She introduced bipartisan legislation in 2016 to prevent people on the No Fly List of Selectee List from purchasing firearms, and supported the Manchin-Toomey Background Check Bill in 2013 and 2015.
Senator Manchin co-authored the Manchin-Toomey Background Check Bill in 2013 and 2015, working closely with Sandy Hook Promise and listening to the voices of his constituents and the nation. Senator Manchin continues to advocate for commonsense, bipartisan solutions, working with Republicans and Democrats in the Senate to prevent gun violence and keep constituents safe.
The honorary co-chairs for the evening U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), U.S. Congresswoman Elizabeth H. Esty (D-CT), U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), spoke passionately about their personal connections with the cause, and their shared goal of reducing violence across the United States. Honorary co-chair U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, Democratic Leader (D-NY) was also acknowledged for his ongoing support, but was unable to attend in person.
SHP’s mission galvanized support from over 50 members of Congress who served on the honorary co-chair committee for this event. They were joined at the gala by esteemed business and philanthropic leaders, and Promise Leaders from across the nation who are creating change within their communities.
Following the horrific shooting of Scalise and others who were practicing for the annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity, and the San Francisco UPS employee shootings earlier in the day, SHP co-founder Nicole Hockley said “Every time I hear about another act of gun violence, the pain of the day I lost my son comes rushing back. Losing a loved one like this is not something you ever get over. But what we want is to prevent others from ever having to feel our pain. That’s how we honor Dylan and Daniel and all the lives lost to gun violence … by creating meaningful, sustainable cultural change, while working to save lives every day. Sadly, incidents of gun violence in our country are still shockingly high. It pains me to say this, but since Sandy Hook, more than 10,000 children under the age of 19 have died as a result of gun violence. That’s 10,000 other families who live with the same pain we do every day.”
Despite the somber tone, Sandy Hook Promise celebrated the great strides it has made in the gun violence prevention and mental health and wellness space to date. In less than three years, SHP has trained nearly 2 million youth and adults in over 3700 schools, across all 50 states with their Know The Signs violence prevention programs on mental health and wellness, identification of at-risk behaviors and how to take action and get help before a situation escalates.
Through their initiatives, SHP has stopped multiple school shootings, suicides and other acts of violence, as well as reduced incidences of bullying, threats and weapons being brought into school and helped many young people get the mental health services support they need. However, there is still much work to be done. Over a half million acts of gun violence occur annually in the U.S. Every day, 314 people are shot, and of those 41 are children under the age of 18.
The event included an opportunity to celebrate and honor many of SHP’s partnerships with some of the country’s largest school districts, and the generation of young minds they have been training. Students and school administrators from the Miami Dade County Public Schools in Miami, FL; Burnet Middle School in Burnet, TX; Dutchtown High School in Hampton, GA; and Steele Canyon High School in Spring Valley, CA attended the event. The Voices of Promise honorees school administrator Sara Te (Burnet, TX), and students Arlette De La Rosa (Miami, FL) and Micaylah Clark (Dutchtown, GA) each gave heartfelt speeches about the impact that SHP’s programs have had in their schools in reducing bullying, promoting social inclusion, and building awareness of ways to identify, act and prevent potential acts of violence.
The event was supported The Association for Accessible Medicines as Presenting Sponsor, and President & CEO Chip Davis was personally thanked for his longstanding partnership with SHP. The event’s Pillar Sponsors, included Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Centene Corporation, Comcast Corporation, General Dynamics Corporation, Pepsico, PhRMA, S&P Global and The Lawrence and Elva O’Brien Family Foundation.
About Sandy Hook Promise: Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) is a national, nonprofit organization based in Newtown, Connecticut. We are led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012 that claimed the lives of 20 first-graders and 6 educators. SHP is focused on preventing gun violence (and other forms of violence and victimization) BEFORE it happens by educating and mobilizing youth and adults on mental health and wellness programs that identify, intervene and help at-risk individuals. SHP is a moderate, above-the-politics organization that supports sensible non-policy and policy solutions that protect children and prevent gun violence. Our intent is to honor all victims of gun violence by turning our tragedy into a moment of transformation. For more information, visit www.sandyhookpromise.org or call 203-304-9780.