News 8 joins 'chain reaction' of Rachel's Challenge

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by JOHN McCAA and MEAGAN HARRIS

Bio | Email | Follow: @johnmccaa

WFAA

Posted on January 7, 2011 at 3:59 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 7 at 4:27 PM

It has been 11 years since the day Darrell Scott's world changed.

He got the news through a phone call; there was a shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, where two of his five children attended school.

The moments that followed would both change and define his life.

Scott waited for word at a school in nearby Littleton, Colorado. Minutes turned to hours before he would learn that his son Craig survived. But he, too, would be forever scarred by what he witnessed.

Craig Scott was in the Columbine High library when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold opened fire. He and his two close friends were hiding under a table.

Both of Craig's friends were shot and killed; just as a gun was pointed at Craig, the shooters were distracted.

Craig Scott survived.

Word of his safety was the relief the Scott family had yearned for, but the agony and anticipation wasn't over.

As the family waited to hear the fate of the daughter they called their "spark plug," that relief would turn to heartbreak.

Rachel Scott would never return home.

She would never graduate.

And Darrell would never get the chance to walk his daughter down the aisle.

Rachel was the first victim killed that gruesome day at Columbine High School, but it's through her death that her life would forever change thousands of others.

Rachel Scott was a writer. She penned journals, essays, and poems — words and sentences that after her death would prove to be prophetic.

An entry on May 21, 1998 read:

"This will be my last year, Lord. I have gotten what I can. Thank you."

Shortly after Rachel's death, her family began to read the journals and essays she left behind. She wrote about changing the world with compassion, calling for a "chain reaction."

Her call for change would set forth a project that would impact thousands and give focus to her family. Darrell Scott's mission in life became simple: To start that "chain reaction."

"If we can reach their heart, they will give us their head for instruction and their heart for service," he said.

Rachel's Challenge was created in 1999. It's a simple program geared for schools and businesses. It encourages service, kindness, and compassion — a "pay it forward" mentality.

Darrell and Craig Scott now spend their time touring the U.S. They share their story and their mission. The presentation is both moving and heartbreaking, and the impact is immediate.

In the last 18 months, 300 unsolicited e-mails have come to the group from teens who were once planning to kill themselves — until they took up Rachel's Challenge.

Darrel Scott prints these messages and puts them in a folder that he carries with him. It's a reminder of Rachel's impact, even 11 years after her death.

Rockwall ISD was one of the first North Texas school districts to embrace Rachel's Challenge. Now nearly 150 area schools take part.

This year, WFAA  is teaming up with Rachel's Challenge with a goal of highlighting and making a positive impact on the community. Each week, Channel 8 and WFAA.com will feature multiple stories about the project and the students taking part. Every month, one student will be chosen as the Rachel's Challenge Student of the Month.

WFAA is dedicated to following the districts and the stories throughout the year.

The chain reaction begins Monday, August 23.

E-mail jmccaa@wfaa.com and mharris@wfaa.com

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