By Jill Fox
After generous donations from Parkland residents, a scenic banner now graces the perimeter fencing around the 1200 building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, where the shooting occurred on February 14, 2018.
In the hopes of providing emotional healing for the students and staff at the school, MSD parents, Lori Alhadeff and Adrienne Auster spent the latter part of the summer on the fundraising project.
Inspiration for it came about a year ago while she was Orlando for her son’s soccer game, Alhadeff passed a construction site with a similar banner filled with trees on a fence.
“It just hit me, and I thought, Wow! Why don’t we do this around the 1200 building?”
Alhadeff, who lost her daughter Alyssa to a school shooter that day, said if the banner could bring one ounce less of trauma to the students and teachers who walk past the building every single day, it was worth it.
She looked into it, but the high cost, as well as more pressing issues, took precedence. When Auster reached out in July with the same idea, the two women decided to raise funds for the project.
Luke Freeman, the owner of Wizard Creations, offered to help with a $15,000 donation.
Freeman said, “We’re Parkland residents, and we’re intimately involved with ensuring that things that can help our community heal from these tragic events occur, whether through time, talent or treasure, we want to help in any way that we can.”
Alhadeff sought approval from the state attorney general’s office, and Broward Sheriff’s Office. With MSD Principal Michelle Kefford and Superintendent Robert Runcie on board, they proceeded with the project.
“I wanted to make sure that if we raised the money, it would be a go,” said Alhadeff.
Auster created a GoFundMe page on July 24, and donations poured in. Two weeks later, their $5,000 goal was met; they had raised $5,435.
The banner was installed on August 18, and the response from parents, teachers, and students has been overwhelmingly positive.
Alhadeff explained the banners of love and outreach after the tragedy were needed, but in the community’s healing process, those can be triggering, so the tree banner brings as much peace as possible with the building still being there.
On the GoFundMe page, Auster wrote: “It is my wish that as you pass the MSD 1200 building a month from now, you will be reminded that there is still beauty in the world and on our campus. Of course, this banner can’t relieve the pain or trauma, but it may help to slightly soften the blow as we all heal.”
- Jill Fox is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer. She has worked in public relations and television for over 20 years. Fox lives in Parkland with her husband and their two children.