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Help Me Help Them

$2,600 of $3,000 goal

Raised by 36 people in 13 months
30079624_1543101146988628_r.jpegWhat kind of person would fly across the country to help a bunch of strangers...then keep flying every single month? Weird? yep. Creepy? maybe. Explainable? I'll try.

9 Months ago I flew down to Parkland because an MSD alumni asked if I'd make a custom wooden MSD memorial American Flag for the school. I did, I flew it down, then I tried to leave, but my three day trip to simply deliver a flag turned into three weeks of explaining how my service dog Cooper helps me to an entire community-through a series of events. 

So why return? Why have a gofundme (that I don't even feel comfortable having in the first place) to help me pay for trips to a location I didn't even know of prior to February 14, to help on my own time? 

Because. Of. My People. My students. My families. My staff. My first responders. My nurses & ER docs, my siblings of victims and gunshot survivors, my parents, my badges, my people. 

Because over 9 months this community became my new friends, my prayer list, my lunch dates, my panic attack navigators, my hand holders, my laugh til we cry and cry til we sleep crew, my text messages of help, my no questions asked phone calls. My people. My family.

I fly down because: they ask me to. Because I listen without judgement, and answer without bs. I am not afraid to tell you the truth, the same way I'm not afraid to love you either. The students aren't embarrassed to. be seen with me at school and trust me like a sibling, The parents see a military veteran and feel safe knowing their kids are with me. I help explain (to those who ask) how their brain is processing, what post traumatic stress can look and feel like, and remind them that there's nothing they can say that will shake me off. 
30079624_1543101258134208_r.jpeg

I don't have a college degree for this. I don't come with a clipboard OR expectations. I don't diagnose, I don't pretend to know more than I do, I'm not afraid to hurt with someone, I am not going to report anything said or record any of it either- *with the only exception being if a student tells me they are struggling with suicidal thoughts in which I make sure the parents know so we can get them the help they need*

But what I do have is years of therapy & help through the Wounded Warrior Project on my. own journey of trauma. Diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress in 2015 from a traumatic event that took place on my deployment in 2011 during my military service I have many miles of navigating this road under my belt.

I fundraise because I volunteer my time for this. My financial budget for a trip includes round trip flights, dog food for Cooper, food/drinks for when I take my kids out after school (gotta give those parents a break), food and gas for me, and the trips I take the kids on (yoga classes, beach days, picnics, dog parks, massage/beauty etc. anything that helps them with stress relief). 

I will continue to fly down until I am no longer asked to. It's that simple. I was made to help here, and if you'd like to join me in my mission to help serve this community I'd love to welcome you to my team. 

Don't hesitate to reach out to me with any questions, and thank you for supporting me & my mission in this chapter of my life.

Sincerely,
Marianne
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Marjory Stoneman Douglas Students are more than shooting victims. They are survivors.

I love my kids. I love that they trust me. These kids have every reason to never trust another person for the rest of their lives, yet they talk to me. They love my dog, and he loves them- it's really that simple.

I am a magical age right now where these students see me as the cool older sister. They love seeing Cooper at school, their eyes light up and as they hug me I can feel them exhale as if they've held their breath since my last trip. I'm covered in tattoos and have a german shepherd, who wouldn't want to come hang out with me? Yet the staff, admin, parents, first responders, and families see me as an adult and trust my instinct (it took the time it takes to earn their trust, a 'love challenge' I didn't mind at all) and I refuse to let them down.

At first a year ago when they saw me they saw a military veteran and firefighter, but now they just see me. If I'm honest, a year ago I saw a lot of victims of a shooting, but now I just see them. What an incredible year of growth and healing we've crawled through together. Healing is a journey not meant for the weak.

My other little brother Kyle Laman is the VERY first student I was asked to go talk to. Out of all of my students, he's my favorite problem child. It's scary how much of myself I see in his recovery. Everyone heals differently but if you put his reactions/ emotions/ symptoms down on paper next to a list of mine, they'd be identical. I think that's why I connect with him on such a deep level, that I don't have with any other student. Kyle's family has become my family too, and I love being around them because I want them to know that this isn't forever, and that I love Kyle just the way he is, and that I'll be around til that boy graduates as well.

These students speak to me in a language no one wants to know how to speak, but learn through trauma. I see it in their eyes, and I know the emotions that run through their bodies when it feels like the pain has cracked them wide open and the universe comes rushing in.

You see, I don't report to anyone- not mom or dad, not teachers or admin, not anyone ever unless 1) they want me to or 2) suicidal thoughts come into play.

I don't have all the answers, but they like that about me. They know I'm not afraid to say 'I don't really know how to answer this, let me text my counselor and see what she says'. My counselor was given to me through the Wounded Warrior Project in 2015 when I first got diagnosed with PTSD. Her name is Kellie, and she saved my life. I was so suicidal I was afraid to be alone, and she talked me through it. When kids come to me with suicidal thoughts, plans, or 'wishes' I don't flinch. I don't step back, I lean in. I know that pain well, so we talk about it. I always tell the parents when suicide is involved and I let them dictate the next steps.

Don't hesitate to contact me with any questions, I plan on doing a couple more updates over the next week!
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Hey fam! Wanted to share what an amazing trip I had for the one year mark with my families and friends.
I flew down from February 11-22 so I could be there for the days leading up to the 14, and the week after.
My trip started with my little brother Alex turning 16! It's insane how much he grew in one year. So much has happened and I can't believe how lucky I am that I get to love this kid. We headed out to see the temple, built in Coral Springs and designed to be magnificently beautiful, yet destined to be burned down. The idea is we can go there and write on the walls, and leave anything we want to let go of (negative emotions, items with bad memories, etc.) to be burned down with the temple at a later date. So we went to the temple and let me tell you it was absolutely breathtaking. In honor of Alex's brother Nicholas whose dream it was to swim in the Olympics, theres 5 wooden olympic rings worked into the design.
After an hour or so there I could tell Alex wanted to get away from the crowd so I let him drive us to Starbucks nearby to get him a birthday drink. Pray for me y'all, I'm letting these teens drive me around.
We ended the birthday bash by going out for dinner just the family of Alex, myself, his girlfriend (I approve) and the parents Annika & Mitch. There aren't enough words to express my love for this family, I'm sure I'll say that a couple more times as I continue to update you with stories but Alex from day one when the school first re-opened after the shooting- immediately became my little brother and his family noticed. They take care of me now like a daughter and because of Alex telling me one night that I felt like Nicholas to him, I vowed to keep flying back down until he graduated high school.
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What kind of person would fly across the country to help a bunch of strangers...then keep flying every single month? Weird? yep. Creepy? maybe. Explainable? I'll try.

A year ago I flew down to Parkland because a firefighter & MSD alumni asked if I'd make a custom wooden memorial American Flag for the school. I did, I flew it down, then I tried to leave, but my three day trip to simply deliver a flag turned into three weeks of explaining how my service dog Cooper helps me to an entire community-through a series of events.

So why return? Why have a gofundme (that I don't even feel comfortable having in the first place) to help me pay for trips to a location I didn't even know of prior to February 14, to help on my own time?

Because they became my people. My students. My families. My staff. My first responders. My nurses & ER docs, my siblings of victims and gunshot survivors, my parents, my badges, my people.

Because over 12 months this community became my new friends, my prayer list, my lunch dates, my panic attack navigators, my hand holders, my laugh til we cry and cry til we sleep crew, my text messages of help, my no questions asked phone calls. My family.

I fly down because: they ask me to. Because I listen without judgement, and answer without bs. I am not afraid to tell you the truth, the same way I'm not afraid to love you either. The students aren't embarrassed to. be seen with me at school and trust me like a sibling. The parents see a military veteran and feel safe knowing their kids are with me. I help explain (to those who ask) how their brain is processing, what post traumatic stress can look and feel like, and remind them that there's nothing they can say that will shake me off.

I don't have a college degree for this. I don't come with a clipboard OR expectations. I don't diagnose, I don't pretend to know more than I do, I'm not afraid to hurt with someone, I am not going to report anything said or record any of it either- *with the only exception being if a student tells me they are struggling with suicidal thoughts in which I make sure the parents know so we can get them the help they need*

But what I do have is years of therapy & help through the Wounded Warrior Project on my. own journey of trauma. Diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress in 2015 from a traumatic event that took place on my deployment in 2011 during my military service I have many miles of navigating this road under my belt.

I fundraise because I volunteer my time for this. My financial budget for a trip includes round trip flights, dog food for Cooper, food/drinks for when I take my kids out after school (gotta give those parents a break), food and gas for me, and the trips I take the kids on (yoga classes, beach days, picnics, dog parks, anything that helps them with stress relief).

I will continue to fly down until I am no longer asked to. It's that simple. I was made to help here, and if you'd like to join me in my mission to help serve this community I'd love to welcome you to my team.

Don't hesitate to reach out to me with any questions, and thank you for supporting me & my mission in this chapter of my life. My next trip is Feb. 11-22 for the one year mark.
+ Read More
Here’s a news article on Kyle Laman’s recovery & a small glimps at why I fly down.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/national/parkland-shooting-recovery/?utm_term=.ea65dd7f5e87
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$2,600 of $3,000 goal

Raised by 36 people in 13 months
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