WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — School shootings have swept our nation in recent years, raising questions about the safety of our children.
One mother personally knows the heartbreak of what happens when signs leading up to a tragedy are missed. Nicole Hockley’s son Dylan was a first-grader killed during the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
Thursday Hockley shared his story with hundreds at Coastal Horizon’s Annual Fundraising Luncheon.
“This is my legacy for Dylan. To honor him and the life that he lost,” Hockley said. “I simply don’t want other parents to be in my place. I want them to experience the joy of having their child go to school in the morning and then come home at the end of the day.”
Dylan was one of the 20 first-graders killed in 2012.
“Dylan was 6 years old when he was killed. But he was just a fantastic little boy. Obviously I’m totally biased because I’m his mother, but he was just pure love in our family. He liked to laugh, he liked to play, he had autism, so he had some learning difficulties, but he was just one of the happiest little boys I’ve ever met,” Hockley said.
During the luncheon, Hockley explained what she is doing to prevent the senseless loss she and others have suffered.
“I think after any tragedy people feel helpless,” Coastal Horizons Development Director, Jamie Thompson said. “We all yearn to have tools to prevent violence, to prevent tragedy from happening. And what Sandy Hook Promise does, what Nicole does, is really focus on early intervention with children’s mental health.”
A major reason Hockley founded Sandy Hook Promise is to raise awareness and create change.
“Violence and gun violence is preventable when you know the signs,” Hockley said. “We need to be upstream in helping people before a situation escalates into violence.”
Her goal, to inform people and spark an important conversation.
“What can you do to help people before they pick up a weapon to hurt themselves or someone else,” Hockley asked.
Coastal Horizons is the area’s largest provider of children’s mental health services. It provides on-campus health centers at New Hanover, Hoggard, Laney and Ashley High Schools.