Nov 19, 2007

ABC News: Foundations to Honor the Petit Family

News Channel 8 aired an interview with Dr. Petit yesterday, as the lone survivor of a home invasion in Cheshire CT that ended in the murders of his wife and two daughters. It was his first interview since the crimes that took his family and his home, and left him seriously injured in late July.

We have all seen him on the news and on the Internet in clips of his memorial services and candlelight vigils for his slain family. He has carried himself with such courage and grace while so many have been praying for him to find the strength to heal from this enormous loss.

His memorials to his family have been remarkable not only in the strength it took to stand up and speak so soon after his own near death experience within that awful crime, but also through his anecdotes and relating his personal memories. By sharing these with us, he's managed to restore his daughters and wife to who they were and what they were about- in life before their tragic ends, rather than allowing them to be remembered only as victims.

In this interview he spoke exclusively with Anne Nyberg of News Channel 8, one of Connecticut's local news channels. I was glad to see that he'd awarded her this opportunity to sit with him as I've noted that Anne has taken a personal interest in the Petit crime, especially the selfless way that Dr. Petit has conducted himself since the murders of his family.

The theme he imparts to us during the interview is the need to take something positive from this ordeal in order to heal. As a survivor of violent crime myself I thoroughly understand this and agree.

In that vein Dr. Petit has set up various charitable foundations under his daughters names, in order to best use the donations that have been coming in from people all over the country. Donations given by those each wishing to do something to honor the Petit women's lives.

Two days ago Dr. Petit awarded the first ever "Haley and Michaela Petit M.S award" to a young boy in the area who alone has been caring for his mother afflicted with MS. This youth oriented charity is particularly special for Dr. Petit in that his wife Jen suffered from MS the last 8 yrs of her life. His daughter Haley manged to raise over $50,000 in a charity that she called Haley's Hope at just 11 years of age. Michaela was to take over and form her own foundation, to be called Michaela's Miracle. I was deeply moved when I learned of this. The world needs to know and never forget how amazingly incredible these two young women were. It is obvious that this entire family imparted the spirit of giving to their children and community at large.

The Haley/Michaela MS foundation is but one of 6 or so charities that are evolving from the donations that Dr. Petit continues to receive from people wanting to continue the Petit's legacy of giving.

It wasn't a long interview but Dr. Petit obviously preferred to concentrate on the good that is coming about as a result of the crimes, rather than, as he put it, "....the horrific nature of the crimes..." which he admitted is often just too overwhelming for him. Although he did a good job of holding it together during the interview, one couldn't help but see and feel the pain quite palpable looming just under the surface of this man. He admitted that many mornings he wakes up and thinks, ".... what do I do now...... with my life?"

When I think about all of the collective pain that has been caused by this set of crimes, and the two evil reprobates that committed them, I am overwhelmed-and yes, very angry- that there were just too many levels in the justice system where the chain of events leading to this crime could have been broken but weren't.

I find I put myself his shoes most every day and more often than I'd like I think about what his girls and his wife went through those last hours. I know it doesn't help anyone but at the same time I don't think the answer is to put our heads in the sand altogether and refuse to ponder at all what those victims experienced during the long hours of their assaults and how they died . For how these women and this child suffered both before and while they were ultimately killed is the very embodiment of this crime. Yes it is painful but we must think about it and take that feeling of anguish and anger to those in our state responsible for criminal justice and sentencing reform. We must not let this ever happen again-whatever it takes.

There is a link below that will take you to the Petit family foundations and the many charities for those who would like to know more OR donate. Give where you can and get involved in the restoration of Connecticut's criminal justice system. Empathy is healing and empowering when experienced by people whether they be together in a group or alone apart. But empathy on it's own in this case is not enough. As Dr. Petit said in one of his memorials that we all should live with a faith that embodies action. Even in the smallest of ways, you can help.

ABC News: Foundations to Honor the Petit Family

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