Defining moments. They drive us, they make us better. And they often lead us to a higher purpose.
Such is the story of a small town in crisis. On a day like any other, 15-year-old Sara was out with a friend, driving around town, laughing and having fun. Until the stop sign was missing. And the highway was suddenly ahead, with a fast approaching truck…
Just like that, a day that should have been like any other quickly turned into a nightmare. The truck hit the car, and Sara’s life was stopped short.
But let’s turn back to before that day in 1991.
Sara was special. She was a force to be reckoned with. At such a young age, she was already an advocate, standing up for others and fighting for fairness. She never met a stranger, and she was inclusive and loving. Well-liked, athletic and outspoken, there was a presence about Sara that showed strength and tenacity.
When Sara was gone, this tragedy was shared by many. But rather than define them as a heartbroken community, it empowered them for change.
It began in the hospital, shortly after the accident. Sara’s friend who drove the car needed help beyond medical care, and soon, Sara’s parents found themselves in her room. “This isn’t your fault,” they said. It was something she had to be told, and had to believe, before she could ever begin to get better. But she wasn’t the only one who needed help.
Sara’s many friends were distraught, but in a time when difficult topics were often taboo or swept under the rug, they were told by teachers to move on. Get over it. Get on with your life. Yet it’s never that simple.
Family and friends quickly saw and experienced first-hand the absence of care for kids in crisis. The schools weren’t handling the situation well, and something had to be done about it.
That’s when it happened. Family, friends, educators and community partners all came together for a greater purpose. It wasn’t easy. They pushed through grief, and they slowly used their experience to create an organization that would be able to champion for kids the way Sara would have—with determination and fearlessness.
It’s been more than 20 years, yet her spirit still fills this place. It motivates us every day, and it keeps us moving forward. Because that’s what Sara would do. Sara is who we strive to be. Sara will never be forgotten.
We thank those who were instrumental in making this happen. There have been many with us on our journey, from day one and throughout the years. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.
Sara’s Project began in 1991 with Crisis Management training for schools. A few years later, Applied Suicide Skills Training and SafeTalk were added to help address the topic of suicide.
Why? To be a support system for kids and teens when they need it most. When teens are exposed to traumatic events, severe dysfunction can result unless loss and grief issues are resolved. At Sara’s project, we believe that early intervention can help restore balance in the lives of children and teens that have suffered trauma.
We call this planned intervention–and it is a critical tool that allows us to find the order in the midst of chaos. More and more, schools are finding it necessary to address issues dealing with safety, child abuse, grief, and crisis response. We strive to have schools prepared, and also be ready to work alongside them if the need arises.