SAN DIEGO — Sandy and Lonnie Phillips tragically lost their daughter when a gunman opened fire at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado ten years ago, killing twelve people.
The mass shooting is the deadliest since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, where 15 people were fatally shot.
“She said mum go back to bed, get some sleep,” Sandy Phillips said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing you next week. I need my mum, I texted I needed by baby girl – that was the last time we spoke.
In front of nearly two dozen people, Sandy recalled the night she lost her daughter, Jessica Redfield Ghawi.
“15 minutes later my phone rang, her friend telling me she was dead, dead? My little girl? Dead? And I let out a moan that sounded more like an animal and my husband appeared in the bedroom as I collapsed on the floor,” Sandy Phillips said.
On Saturday, Sandy and her husband Lonnie Phillips kicked off their “Honor with Action Tour” in San Diego.
“That’s when it became clear to both of us that our new normal was to make sure Jessie’s story was kept alive,” Lonnie Phillips said.
The 10,000 Mile Call to Action to empower survivors, educate lawmakers, bring people together to get involved, and create groups like San Diegan for gun violence prevention.
“We have states that are doing a really, really good job, but nationally, there hasn’t been a single good gun bill passed in over 25 years,” Sandy said.
The couple will travel to 22 states and 22 cities, calling on those affected by gun violence. Maria Gaspar Casillas, the aunt of 12-year-old Angel Gaspar Gallegos, killed by a stray bullet while playing on Thanksgiving night, will share the heartbreaking family story.
“It takes a village to raise a child, now let’s rise together for our children,” said Gaspar.
Working with the University of California, San Diego, the Phillips were able to create a mindfulness course for survivors of gun violence. The eight-week course will start on March 11. Course registration closes March 1. Those wishing to participate do not need to be a student with UCSD.
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