By: Carly Levy
Still grieving over the loss of his daughter by a school shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Andrew Pollack has made it his mission to ensure safety measures are provided to schools across the nation.
Since the death of his daughter Meadow, Pollack has put his career as a real estate agent on hold to honor his daughter’s memory by making sure school shootings never occur again. Along with other parents of victims from February 14, they succeeded in getting a school safety bill passed in Tallahassee.
On March 9. after passing both the house and senate, Governor Rick Scott signed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Safety Act, which funds mental health, raises gun ownership age to 21, creates the Coach Aaron Feis Guardian Program, and creates a three-day waiting period limits on shotgun and rifle purchases. Andrew was also appointed by the governor to be on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School Safety Committee to oversee what can be done to prevent school shooting tragedies from happening again.
On a national level, Pollack is creating a nonprofit called “Americans for Class: Children’s Lives and School Safety.” He will meet with the 49 other state governors across the country with new legislation to strengthen school safety. There will also be educational videos on the organization’s upcoming website with guidelines and tips on what parents should ask of their elected officials.
“There’s not the same type of urgency to fix the schools as there would be for an airport or a football stadium,” said Pollack. “Anyone that says any other word besides ‘school safety’ takes away from the objective of keeping our children safe at schools.”
Pollack admits that while he is not a gun expert, he believes that bringing guns into the situation takes away the objective of fixing school safety measures.
“If a drunk driver runs over ten people, the drunk driver goes to prison. They don’t go after the manufacturer of the car,” said Pollack. “It’s the same with our schools. Fix the school first and then worry about gun issues after.”
On a personal level, the family began collecting donations in February to build Meadow’s Playground in Coral Springs. Just last month, Pollack hosted a “Ride for Meadow” fundraiser where hundreds of motorcyclists rode from West Palm Beach to the Pollack’s home in Coral Springs for a silent auction fundraiser. The event raised $75,000, but they still need $200,000 for maintenance, water features, and sunshades to protect the garden from intense weather. Since “Ride for Meadow” was so successful, Pollack said he is in talks with Harley Davidson to make it a national event.
During the event, Pollack’s 20-year-old son, Hunter, read a speech about his sister that he originally wrote for “March For Our Lives” in Washington, D.C. The reason why he wasn’t a speaker at the event was that he said he received a text message from one of the coordinators telling him that there was not enough time for him to give it, leaving him disappointed.
“I didn’t mention the word ‘gun’ in my speech,” said Hunter. “It was nothing to do with politics. It was honoring my sister.”
A resident of Parkland for the past 17 years, Hunter grew up living between both his mother’s home in Parkland and his father’s home. Currently, a college student at Tallahassee Community College, he said he would be attending Florida State University, possibly in the fall or spring. As a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, while Meadow was a freshman, he said they were very close.
“She was always there whenever I needed her,” said Hunter. “She was very beautiful. She had a smile that could light up the whole room…light up the whole state if it had to.”