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Help Us Stop Celebratory Gunfire

$6,476 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 114 people in 1 month
Created July 6, 2019
At 2pm on the Forth of July, Sam was hit by a stray bullet in his neck from celebratory gunfire.  He was in Ohio and outside during a work training behind a school in a residential neighborhood. Read his account of the incident here. 

Though he thankfully avoided sudden death, major complications, and surgery (the bullet will remain in his neck), we are determined to help stop other incidents of people harmed by celebratory gunfire.

When we started this campaign, we had been told that insurance would not cover our medical expenses. We reached out to our community for help and you delivered. Big time. 

About a week after Sam's incident, we got the good news that his employer's insurance WILL cover his medical bills 100%. Not only that but they will continue to cover any medical bills that rise in the future should there be any complications from his permanent souvenir of a bullet in his neck. 

Now that we are no longer fearing the medical bills to come, we want to maintain our promise that: 

Any money we raise beyond our medical costs will be donated to firearm safety education.


This was an accident that could have been easily prevented. We hope this story inspires others to use their firearms with responsibility and help to educate those who are apparently lacking in awareness of the consequences of celebratory gunfire.

Read the updates for more information on our evolving journey.

If you've contributed previously to our call for help with medical bills, we want to offer to refund you your donation since we no longer need it for the medical bills. Just contact Nyssa at nyssahanger-AT-gmail-DOT-com. 

We haven't made a final decision of the best use of the money we've raised but we are looking into working with groups like BulletFreeSky so we can contribute to furthering the reach of the necessary education our communities need to stop this selfish and destructive behavior of shooting a gun into the sky.
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Dear friends,
1 month and a few days later and I am finally home. It's soooo good to be with Nyssa again.
But now the real hard part begins: adjusting back to regular life. While working this summer, I was able to stay in a bubble - constant work to do, living in the country, full distraction. Now back in the bigger world I find myself confronted by all of this fear, hate, and helplessness in the wake of all of these shootings. I'm overwhelmed by feelings of pain and sadness for the victims and families, people who were just going about their days when suddenly their lives were irrevocably altered, and I'm having a hard time turning that sensitivity off. I feel like this bullet in my neck is serving as an antenna for it. I only have a few days before I return to school and I'm kind of concerned about my mental state. Thankfully there will be no kids for another week and change. I'm really going to try to rest over the next few days and try to come to a place inside where I can deal with it all.
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My story has finally hit the local news here in Cleveland. Additionally, the school was contacted for the story, and put in a position where they could no longer bury their head in the sand. I hope people in their school community see it!
As a special bonus, I got a "Florida man..." line in there!
https://fox8.com/2019/08/01/man-struck-in-neck-by-celebratory-gunshot/
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My flyer. I've also made a new one for the next street over.
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Hello friends,

Well, it is my last week in Ohio. After a few weeks of waiting for the school where this occurred to do something to make their children safer, or for the police to come up with something, I've decided to take action on my own. I would not be able to live with myself if I went back to Tampa without having done everything in my power to protect these children. So I've begun to agitate things. I re-wrote the disgustingly unsubstantial letter full of half truths, lies, and lawyer-speak that Hershey's head of school sent out to parents. I left the original letter intact, but added some important omissions. Then I sent it back to the head of school. Then I posted it on the school's facebook page. I've heard from a couple of parents in just a couple of days about how vastly different the truth is from what they were told, how different my version makes the situation, and they they are outraged. Lo and behold, suddenly the head of school (who never contacted me even once after I was shot at her school), feels so sorry that this all happened and wants to get together to talk.
I plan to talk about how disappointed I am. About how I've contacted the townships trustees to tell them about what happened, and how they are putting pressure on the detectives. About how I've gone and flyered the neighborhood behind the school to inform them of what happened. About how I talked to several of the neighbors and they have a good idea that shots came from the dead end of the next street behind them. About how I'm trying to stoke that anger and action the parent community. And most of all about how disappointing it's me that's doing all of these things and not her. She is in a position to actually do something to protect the children of the school, and is doing nothing, and that's unacceptable.

The current score is: Direct Action 1, Lawyer-Speak 0

Here is the re-worked letter I sent to Hershey and posted to their FB (it seemed to do the trick!):

Dear Hershey Families,
 I SENT OUT AN EARLY DRAFT OF THIS LETTER BUT OMITTED SOME IMPORTANT INFOMATION. PLEASE SEE THE CAPITALIZED PASSAGES.
We hope you have enjoyed time with your loved ones this holiday weekend. We are sending this note to inform you of an incident that occurred on July 4th.

A group of teachers-in-training FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY AND WORLD visited the Concord Campus to view the outdoor environment as part of a Montessori adolescent studies course. During the tour, WHILE STANDING BETWEEN THE CHICKEN COOP AND THE GARDEN, one participant, SAMUEL ROTKER, OF TAMPA, FLORIDA, was struck IN THE NECK by a bullet that had been fired in the air from one of the homes in the surrounding neighborhood, DIRECTLY ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE HEDGEROW FROM THE SCHOOL. The individual, AN ACTUAL PERSON WITH A NAME, LIFE, AND FAMILY, was taken to the hospital, WHERE CT SCANS DETERMINED THE BULLET MISSED HIS CAROTID ARTERY BY 1 INCH. IF THAT BULLET HAD HIT THE ARTERY, DOCTORS SAY HE LIKELY WOULD HAVE BLED TO DEATH AT THE SCHOOL. EVERY MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL HAS CALLED IT AN ABSOLUTE MIRACLE THAT THE BULLET MISSED ALL VITAL STRUCTURES. HE WAS treated and released, and is expected to make a full recovery, AT LEAST PHYSICALLY, AS THE BULLET WILL REMAIN IN HIS NECK FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE AS A REMINDER OF WHAT HAPPENED THAT DAY. PSYCHOLOGICALLY, IT'S DIFFICULT TO SAY IF HE'LL EVER FULLY RECOVER.
 
We believe that this injury was the result of neighborhood Independence Day celebrations. The Lake County Sheriff is currently investigating the incident, THOUGH THEY ADMIT THEY ARE UNLIKELY TO FIND THE CULPRIT. They have informed us that the bullet could have originated anywhere within one mile of the school, HOWEVER, WITNESSES WHO HEARD THE GUNSHOTS BELIEVE THE THEY CAME FROM MUCH CLOSER. We are doing everything that we can to assist in that investigation, MEANING, WE ARE NOT INTERFERING IN ANY WAY, THOUGH WE'VE DONE NOTHING TO ASSIST.
 
The safety of our children and staff is our primary concern, EVEN THOUGH WE ARE NOT TAKING ANY ACTION TO ENSURE THIS NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN. The Concord Campus has been a safe place for children for over thirty-three years and we are confident that it remains safe., THOUGH IF THE PERPETRATOR IS NOT CAUGHT, THEY WILL LIKELY DO IT AGAIN. SOMEHOW IT REMAINS SAFE DESPITE THE FACT THAT AN ELEMENTARY STUDENT AND PARENT WERE SUPPOSED TO COME TO SCHOOL THAT VERY AFTERNOON TO FEED THE CHICKENS, BUT GOT SIDETRACKED AND DECIDED TO JUST COME THE NEXT DAY INSTEAD. We continue to maintain carefully planned safety protocols and procedures when the school is in operation.
 
We want to assure you that this incident was in no way related to any activity on our campus, that no students were on campus during this incident, and that no Hershey Montessori School staff members were affected, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE THREE TRAINING PARTICPANTS WHO ARE HERSHY UPPER SCHOOL STAFF MEMBERS, ONE OF WHOM IS ALSO A CONCORD PARENT, AND OF COURSE THE DIRECTOR OF THE TRAINING, WHO HAS WORKED AT HERSHEY FOR 35 YEARS. The teachers-in-training program is unrelated to the operation of Hershey Montessori School, EXCEPT THAT FOR 20 YEARS IT HAS BEEN PARTLY, AND IS NOW FULLY, HOSTED AT THE HUNTSBURG FARM CAMPUS, The Concord Campus was made available to this course as part of our values as a non-profit to enhance global understanding of Montessori, AND ADOLESCENT TRAINING GROUPS HAVE BEEN VISITING THE CONCORD CAMPUS FOR MANY YEARS. IT IS A LONG-ESTABLISHED TRADITION, AND AN IMPORTANT PART OF THE TRAINING PROCESS. We feel deeply for the visiting teacher who is a part of the broader Montessori community and wish him a fast and full recovery, EXCEPT THAT WE'VE NEVER CONTACTED HIM, NOT EVEN ONCE, TO EXPRESS THIS OR SEE HOW HE'S DOING. TRULY, WE HAVE NO IDEA HOW HE'S ACTUALLY DOING.
 
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
 Sincerely
 
Paula Leigh-Doyle
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$6,476 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 114 people in 1 month
Created July 6, 2019
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