A Colorado family is taking their tragedy and using it to educate others.
Many of us may remember the scary hostage situation in Bailey, Colorado a few years ago that led to the death of a student.
Tuesday the victim’s father was in Pueblo reminding leaders that crime can happen anywhere. He emphasized how important it is that everyone knows “what to do” in a crisis situation.
John-Michael Keyes and his wife Ellen lived through a nightmare back in 2006. Their twin daughter Emily was held hostage at her school, Platte Canyon High School.
Emily was held hostage by the gunman along with six other girls. Eventually five of them were released. The gunman ultimately shot and killed her; she was the only student who didn’t make it out alive.
But before she lost her life she was able to send a message to her parents.
"Emily sent us a text message to us "I love you guys" while she was being held hostage,” said John-Michael Keyes.
That text message inspired Emily’s parents to form a foundation called “I Love U Guys”.
The goal is to help kids in crisis situations. The focus is to teach schools and communities how to come up with a crisis plan, to sure everyone, including students, knows what to do what they come face to face with danger.
“What we saw that students, staff and first responders didn't share a common language and expectations of behavior during a crisis,” said Keyes.
The foundation has helped fill that gap by developing the “Standard Response Protocol” (SRP); a tool that any community can use.
"That common language is based on four actions: lockout, lockdown, evacuate and shelter. And if everybody knows what to do during a crisis then the outcome is hopefully better,” said Keyes.
Keyes tells 11 News that right now about half of the schools in Colorado use the protocol. It has even drawn national attention, and is being implemented in others states across the country.
The protocol is free for communities, schools, or law enforcement agencies to use.
To view the protocol, for more information, or to donate to the foundation visit: www.iluvuguys.org.
According to their website, here is the mission of the foundation:
“The I Love U Guys” Foundation was created to restored and protect the joy of youth through educational programs and positive actions in collaboration with families, schools, communities, organizations, and government entities”
In support of that mission, the Foundation established three points of focus-Kindness, Community, and Responsibility.
They also offer training and support materials for its programs; Standard Response Protocol, Standard Reunification Method, The Sexting Conversation and Regretting is Harder, which are offered nationally.
John-Michael Keyes was the guest speaker at a Pueblo event honoring National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. It was held at Pueblo Community College and hosted by the 10th Judicial Probation Department in partnership with the Pueblo Domestic Violence Task Force.
The goal this year is to reach all crime victims and open their eyes to the network of dedicated agencies and individuals hoping to assist them with a variety of services.
Officials plan to make the awareness banquet an annual event.