Shawn Trotti's heart continues to ache for victims of the Newtown, Conn., mass shooting.
The FishHawk Ranch wife and mother of two daughters searched Facebook for different tributes to the students and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary. She came across Walk 27, a page that encourages people around the world to honor the victims by walking together, wearing the school colors green and white, at 9:30 this morning for 27 minutes.
Trotti has organized a tribute extending beyond the 27 minutes. She will lead a group that will gather at the Sweetbay supermarket at 16751 Fishhawk Blvd. and walk to four schools in the area: Bevis and FishHawk Creek elementaries, Randall Middle and Newsome High.
"FishHawk is an amazing community," said Trotti, who initially hoped to reach about a dozen friends and now anticipates a much larger gathering. "We want to show support, but we're all at a loss for what to say and what to do. This will be a great way for them to know we're supporting them."
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The positive response is not surprising when you consider it started with one man in Port St. Lucie.
Kevin Vanover, a father of three, created a "Memorial Page for the Victims at Sandy Hook Elementary" so people could place prayers and dedications. The page drew close to 400,000 likes in its first four days.
Walk 27 struck Vanover as a natural extension — an opportunity for the world to come together and help heal the hearts of those who felt loss in this horrific tragedy.
In lieu of balloons, he has suggested the walk end with bubbles, which requires people to inhale and exhale — and maybe release some of the emotions bottled up inside.
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From England to Hawaii to New Mexico and a lot of places in between, people have organized walks or at least expressed support.
In the local area, walks have been organized for the YMCA in Seffner and at Lake Hollingsworth in Lakeland. A Tarpon Springs woman says she will walk from the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral to the Spring Bayou.
And Trotti continues to plan for her FishHawk gathering.
"You don't have to be a FishHawk resident," Trotti said. "We have grandparents coming out to walk, we have people who go to different schools who are coming just to be part of a larger group.
"And I would love to see more people walking. Even if you work in a corporate area, if you just walk in a parking lot for 27 minutes, I think it will be outstanding to show the people in Newtown how heavy our hearts are."
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Some will argue that such a display won't hold significance if it doesn't call for specific changes to curb the crisis and prevent another deranged gunman from shattering reality, destroying innocence and erasing life.
I don't agree.
Sure, we need to examine where our nation stands in the wake of Sandy Hook, but it will require more than simple demands. It's about gun policy, but it also involves mental health, education, parenting, movies and video games.
Ultimately, it's a community issue, so why not start with the community?
Do we need leaders to address the complexities? Definitely, but a gathering free of politics and full of concern might actually do a better job of capturing the attention of leaders and spurring the kind of support any change will need to be truly effective.
Before you stand for something, it's best to stand together.
That's all I'm saying.