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Athletes respond to the Parkland shooting

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Less than a month ago, Nikolas Cruz shot and killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in what was one of the deadliest school massacres ever. This tragic event was felt all across the nation and has sparked major political debate over gun laws. Athletic organizations and professional athletes have taken a large role in the healing process by creating charities for victims and speaking out against government policies.

A week after the shooting, three-time MLB all star and Stoneman Douglas alum Anthony Rizzo returned to his high school. Rizzo delivered a tear-jerking speech at the vigil which he described as the hardest thing he has ever had to do. Rizzo, who is known for his outstanding character, stayed in Florida and visited victims families and spoke with survivors in the hospital.

Cubs owner Tom Ricketts praised Rizzo’s character.

“[It is] one of the most amazing things I’ve seen in baseball. What he’s done for his causes, for cancer, the amount of time he gives for kids in particular and the amount of energy he puts into his own charitable efforts is remarkable,” said Ricketts. His charitable works has been noticed by many across the MLB. Rizzo has won both the Marvin Miller Man of the Year award and to the Roberto Clemente award for charitable work. The impact and comfort Rizzo has provided the Parkland community is tremendous.

Jesus Luzardo, an MLB prospect and Douglas alum, has been raising funds for the family of Chris Hixon, one of the victims of the shooting. The whole MLB community has rallied around Stoneman Douglas, with all teams wearing MSD hats during their spring training games. The MLB will be auctioning off these hats and donating the money to victims of the shooting. In addition, the Miami Marlins invited the Douglas baseball team to their spring game, where they had a chance to hang out with the players and recieved some special memorabilia.

Joaquin Oliver was born in Florida and was one of Dwyane Wade’s biggest fans. Oliver’s dad remembered how excited Joaquin was that Wade was coming back to play for the Heat. One week after Wade’s comeback, Joaquin was shot and killed at Stoneman Douglas. Joaquin’s family reported that he was buried in his Dwayne Wade Miami Vice style jersey. When Wade heard of this gesture he released a statement dedicating the rest of this season to Joaquin and his family. In addition, Wade invited Oliver’s family to his next game and presented them with his custom game shoes, which sported Joaquin’s name on them, and his game jersey. In Wade’s first game after dedicating his season to Joaquin Oliver, Wade hit a game winner to beat the Philadelphia 76ers.

Wade told the Miami Herald, “I don’t even know how to put it into words or thought at all. In a tough moment for a family, there’s so many decisions that you have to make. And for me to be a part of that — that he would have wanted to be buried in my jersey — that’s mind-boggling to me.”

Other athletes and coaches have come out in the wake of the shooting demanding a change of gun laws. One especially pointed critique came from the Golden State Warriors’ head coach, Steve Kerr, who lost his father to gun violence.

It doesn’t seem to matter to our government that children are being shot to death day after day in schools,” said Kerr.

As someone who grew up just minutes from Douglas and spent countless hours on their fields, it is extremely gratifying to see the athletic community as a whole come together and support Parkland in their time of need. Many people’s lives were forever changed from the events that occurred that day. Students and families from all over the United States are working tirelessly to get gun laws changed in an effort to make sure that this school shooting is the last.

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