Look For The Helpers

This isn’t a political post.

While I was waiting outside to pick up my kids after school today, I was . . . overcome with a range of emotions that I haven’t really felt since my babies were born. The only day like it for me was perhaps the day that our pediatrician suggested that we have the boy tested for autism.

I was ecstatic that my children were safe. I was enraged that there are dads and moms in this nation who will never know that feeling again.

What happened today in Newtown, Connecticut should not happen. No one should have to face that.

But it does, and we do.

And when it does, we come . . . unmoored: a ship, tossed on the tempest, floundering and alone.

I cannot begin to know the grief, the pain, and the loss that Sandy Hook Elementary is facing. For that, I am forever grateful.

So what can I do? What do I know?

I can love my kids. And boy did they ever know it when I picked them up today.

I can thank, support, appreciate, and fight for all the staff, administrators, aides, volunteers, and teachers who willingly give their lives for the education and safety of my babies every day.

I am certain that over the next few weeks we will hear of the heroes who risked their lives for the children of others today.

I will remember that this isn’t new or unique to tragedies like Newtown or Columbine. Our teachers do this for our kids everyday. And that’s why we don’t see it clearly all the time.

I can do something nice for another human being, just because we breathe the same air.

I can work to change the attitude and approach toward mental illness in this nation. I don’t have any idea what the cause of this tragedy is at this time, but I do know that at some point in our lives, all of us need help. It is inexcusable that the prevailing attitude toward mental illness is, “if you were stronger,” or “if you were a better parent,” you or your child would be fine.

This must change.

Finally, I will suffer with those who are suffering; I’ll laugh with those who are happy; I’ll mourn with those who are mourning, and I’ll play with those who are playing.

I’ll say thank you.

And I’ll hold my kids close for those who cannot hold their own tonight.

I am heartbroken for our neighbors tonight. But I refuse to let them suffer alone.

We are one tonight. We are Sandy Hook.

As Mr. Rogers taught us: “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

I will be a helper.


"Children see magic because they look for it." --Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Jesus' childhood pal.


  1. Russell, your commentary is beautifully written.
    Today, as I listened to the President speak of the tragedy in Connecticut, I was overwhelmed with the pain that those families and members of the community must be feeling.
    When President Obama cried, I cried.
    Tonight, as I read your message, I cried again.
    It will be a long time before we stop crying for these people who have died so needlessly in the past number of years.
    However, we must move past our tears and become stronger in finding ways to prevent these events from recurring.
    May the love and caring that you give to all those around you be returned to you and your family today and every day.

  2. Thanks for writing this beautiful and moving tribute Russ. I’ve been struggling about what to write about this issue, which is why I haven’t written much of anything. My thoughts and emotions are all over the place, from anger, to fear, to sadness…..I can only imagine what the friends and families of the victims are going through…..

    In any event I must say it was principals, teachers, support personnel, and first responders who protected, comforted, sacrificed their lives, and led those children out of the school building. In other words, at the end of the day, it was “human capital” not laptop computers and I-Pads who were the key.

  3. Could it at all be possible that Dr. Wardynski looks at teachers and school employees through a slightly different lens after what happened on Friday? How on Earth can he not see that these wonderful people who chose the teaching profession because they had a desire to influence and promote the growth of young innocent minds, are not the backbone, heart and soul of our school system?

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