Rockwall students embrace 'Rachel's Challenge'

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on January 7, 2011 at 3:59 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 7 at 4:27 PM

ROCKWALL — A North Texas community came together Thursday night to celebrate small acts of kindness.

It was part of a challenge issued by Rachel Scott before she died. Scott was the first person killed in the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado 11 years ago.

Rockwall has embraced Rachel's challenge. Thousands of people converged on Wilkinson-Sanders Stadium, where they honored the slain teenager through their own acts of compassion.

The theme of "Rachel's Rally" was "others before self."

Rockwall ISD students are doing what they can to offer a helping hand to their classmates, friends, and even total strangers.

Students carried a long and winding chain around the track surrounding the football field. Each link in the chain represented an act of kindness.

Before she died, Rachel Scott wrote an essay that included her theory that if one person can show compassion, it will start a chain reaction of the same.

"It's like she's still alive," said Darrell Scott, Rachel's father, who traveled to Rockwall for the event. "It's not just a memory; it's a living legacy."

Rockwall students and volunteers spent the day packing one million meals for the earthquake victims in Haiti. "Hundreds of kids are spending hours serving kids they'll never meet in third world countries," Scott said. "I just wish my daughter could be here."

One student donated her hair to cancer or burn patients who lose theirs.

It's a simple concept, but it's catching on. Just ask the kids.

"I feel like it's made everyone in our school better people," said Rachel Hilton.

Brooke Eddy also sees a change at her school. "People are more aware of what we need to do, like inviting others to come to the lunch table," she said. "Like little things like that."

Rachel's Challenge has saved lives, too. Her father says in the last 18 months, the organization received 183 e-mail messages from students who said they had been planning to commit suicide. Those students said when they experienced the Rachel's Challenge program at their schools, they changed their minds about taking their own lives.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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