A Columbine High School massacre survivor is planning to speak Dec. 30 at Calvary Chapel Southbury – a church roughly eight miles from Newtown, where 20 children and six school staff members were killed.
"Her nightmare at Columbine lasted just seven minutes, but changed her life forever," read an advertisement for Crystal Woodman Miller's speech, posted at Carminuccio's Pizza in Newtown.
The Columbine massacre in Colorado left 13 victims dead and 21 injured on April 20, 1999. It's the deadliest mass murder at a United States high school, and, like the killer in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, the perpetrators ended the rampage with their own deaths.
At lunchtime, the two Columbine killers pulled guns from under their trench coats and started firing. Woodman-Miller, then 16, hid under a library table with two others. She believes they survived because the shooters ran out of ammunition before getting to them, according to a Time magazine report.
In that 2007 article, Woodman Miller recalled the aftermath as a blur of media attention, memorial services and funerals, and said "it took a long time to be able to laugh or even smile without feeling guilty." She also said she had violent dreams every night for two years.
The advertisement for her Dec. 30 speech in Newtown said she will "share her experience and offer comfort and hope for healing to our community."
Miller, who has said her faith gave her hope for life after the tragedy, has written a book about her experiences, "Marked for Life." She's now a full-time speaker and author.
There will be three services at Calvary Chapel Southbury that Sunday: 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The church is encouraging families to attend, and childcare will be available during the 1 p.m. service.
On December 20, four survivors from the 2005 Red Lake Indian Reservation shooting presented Newtown students with a plaque they'd received from Columbine massacre survivors. The survivors, along with nine other students and additional administrators, drove nearly 30 straight hours to Connecticut.
"It's the outpouring of love from us," coordinator Stephanie Hope Smith said that day in front of Newtown's Edmond Town Hall. "All the volunteers what want to help feed the soul."
After the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, the Denver Post collected thoughts and sentiments from families who suffered the loss of a loved one or who survived the Columbine shootings. The messages were meant for the families and survivors in Sandy Hook.
"You are on a lifelong journey, each of you will travel your own road," wrote Al and Phyllis Velasquez, parents of 16-year-old victim Kyle Velasquez "Don't let anyone tell you how to grieve or deal with your emotions. You alone will decide how to heal."