On February 14th devastating news began to spread across the Country, of a gunman roaming the halls of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida. Exactly two weeks later on Wednesday, February 28th, the resilient and outspoken survivors of this tragedy returned to school to reunite with friends and “start the healing process” as the school’s principal TY Thompson said on Twitter.
Karen Schneier-Dresbach is the Executive Vice President of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, the President & Executive Producer of Holey Shirts Productions and the daughter of an internationally known rabbi, Rabbi Arthur Schneier. Dresbach who lives in Boca Raton Florida held an event for the mayor, city officials, teachers and some baseball players at the Aventura Marketing Council Chamber of Commerce Breakfast at the Sport of Kings at Gulfstream Park.
The keynote speaker was her good friend and New York Yankees Community Consultant Ray Negron. Negron was honored to be there to give his love to the families and also share his story of how he was saved as a young man growing up in the Bronx.
“We brought him to talk about the importance that adults play in mentoring young people, the importance of giving back and the importance of taking the time to nourish them, mentor them and love them and that really resonated with the crowd,” said Dresbach. “From there he was very passionate about wanting to meet some of the parents, and law enforcement officers at Stoneman Douglas,” she added.
For those of you who are not familiar with Negron’s unbelievable story, at 16 years-old he was spray painting on the wall of Yankee Stadium where he was caught by the boss himself George M. Steinbrenner. Instead of sending Negron to jail, Steinbrenner gave him a second chance making him a batboy for one of the most historic franchises in MLB history. Negron with the help of many along the way has built that second chance into a great life, dedicated to making his home (the Bronx) and all other communities better with the help of some Yankee greats.
“Steinbrenner once said to me ‘You better remember that you have found money’ and by that he meant that always extend your hand to help because suppose people hadn’t helped you,” said Negron. “The players helped me, the managers helped me, the people that I met through the organization helped me which in turn helped me become a better person,” he added.
After giving his speech and meeting with some members of the community Negron and Dresbach went over to the High School to engage with a few students and parents who were affected by this tragedy. On their way over to the school, both had the chance to stop by some of the beautiful memorials left by loved ones.
“There was one particular parent praying for their child, and it was an incredible thing, and it will take me a little while to get over because it was heartening because I am a parent,” said Negron. “I think the message we heard while we were there was ‘We need every ones’ love and support to push us through,’” added Dresbach.
Thinking of the help, he has received throughout his life Negron can only wonder what could have happened if someone was there for the gunman Nikolas Cruz.
“Like I said when I gave my speech, suppose one more person would have told Cruz I love you, maybe that would have helped him,” said Negron. “Suppose when his mother died in November more people would have said ‘I’m with you’ or ‘I support you’ or ‘I’ll do whatever I can to help you’ maybe that would have helped him because I know it helped me,” he added.
As Negron and Dresbach continued their walk along the high school, Negron had the chance to speak with a parent. He was able to offer his love and support.
“I was there out of respect for the parents because me as a parent I know that this can happen anywhere,” said Negron. “So I told her ‘Hey I love you and I wish I could do more besides give you some words’,” he added.
While Negron wishes he could have given more than words, the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are using words to try and force change. In the days and weeks after the shooting, many students who survived have spoken out on gun control and other issues on behalf of their fallen classmates.
“I’m really proud of them cause it’s not like their just attacking the kid who did all this, they’re actually quite mature about the situation, and I would hope that my kids would act the same way,” said Negron. “I personally think that what these kids have done in the wake of the tragedy rather than turning inward they’ve chosen to be an advocate in the name of those who were victims, and I think that is extraordinary,” said Dresbach.
“Take care of your neighborhood, take care of your town, take care of the kids in your neighborhood, there is no reason in the world why we can’t show love to all of these kids,” expressed Negron. “I can’t stand when fans say ‘I hate A-Rod,’ ‘I hate this one I hate that one’ and they have no clue how much certain guys have extended their hands to help so many kids,” he shared.
It has been two weeks since the tragic shooting in Parkland Florida, and it will take much longer before things are back to “normal.” But this school is in good hands with a resilient student body who continues to speak out and be strong for the loved ones they lost.
“Adults have to really show support not just to those kids but to all kids around the country, I did not know any of those kids, but I was crying, and if I’m crying then many people are crying,” said Negron. “If you’re crying please through the tears let’s reach out to our kids and give them our love,” he added.
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