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Survivors Inspire Wyckoff Students With Raw Stories Of Tragedy, Hope

Mark Barden, director of advocacy for Sandy Hook Promise, tells Wyckoff middle school students about his son Daniel who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Mark Barden, director of advocacy for Sandy Hook Promise, tells Wyckoff middle school students about his son Daniel who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Photo Credit: Lauren Kidd Ferguson
Students at Eisenhower Middle School in Wyckoff listen to Jacy Good.
Students at Eisenhower Middle School in Wyckoff listen to Jacy Good. Photo Credit: Lauren Kidd Ferguson
About 800 Wyckoff middle school students participated in “3R’s Day.”
About 800 Wyckoff middle school students participated in “3R’s Day.” Photo Credit: Lauren Kidd Ferguson
Speakers left messages for students on the three R signs outside the Eisenhower Middle School in Wyckoff.
Speakers left messages for students on the three R signs outside the Eisenhower Middle School in Wyckoff. Photo Credit: Lauren Kidd Ferguson

WYCKOFF, N.J. – Jacy Good’s family was “cut in half” in one day, the accident survivor told a group of Wyckoff middle school students Monday.

Good – whose mother and father died in a crash involving a distracted driver when she was just 21 leaving her and her brother to live without them – was one of nearly 30 speakers to share their raw stories of living through adversity with the students at Eisenhower Middle School.

The speakers ranged from Mark Barden, whose son Daniel was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, to survivors of the Holocaust, 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Rwandan genocide, to those who have overcome drug addiction, disabilities and depression.

“You are going to go through some tough things in your life,” Good told the students. “Use it to make the world a better place.”

Good said the crash, that she barely survived herself, put her and her now-husband on a mission to raise awareness and change the culture around talking on phones and texting while driving.

Barden, whose son Daniel was in first grade when he was murdered, has also dedicated himself to a cause since losing his son, he said. He is now director of advocacy for Sandy Hook Promise, where he strives to spare other families from the pain of losing a child to gun violence.

“What I did decide to do was to try to stop it from happening ever again,” he said.

Principal Chris Iasiello said he thinks the program helps students realize “the stuff that they are facing maybe it’s not as big of a deal as they thought it was, maybe it’s easier to overcome it and get through it than maybe they thought.”

“I think by hearing people who have gone through some of the worst tragedies in human history, when they think about the trouble they are having with their friend, it sure doesn’t seem like such a big deal,” he said.

The event – called “3R’s Day” to represent “Respect, Reflect and Resiliency” – occurs at the middle school once every three years, and is made possible through many sponsors and volunteers.

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