Dec 29, 2010

Willim Petit Jr.: Person of the Year

While there is certainly no more deserving a man for this title, I personally feel that it might just be a bit of a misnomer. A very humble person who clearly carries himself as a bit of an every-man, William Petit was undoubtedly surprised to find himself thus honored by The New Haven Register this week.

From all appearances of the man however, he might be more apt to graciously accept the title of Most inspiring person of the year, as inspiring others would seem to be at the core of his life mission.

As far as I can see, William Petit. has achieved
something akin to miraculous within the three plus years following the murders of his wife and two daughters. He managed to take one unadulterated act of pure evil and turn it into thousands of waves of hope, and acts of ever-lasting good. And as with most good endeavours, it was a concert effort, with the hard work and support of many people and their efforts both within and outside of, The Petit Family Foundation, a non profit charity created in the wake of the murders. All donations and proceeds from events, such as the annual 5K Road Race IN Plainville, help others. Women who are affected by violent crime, others living with chronic illnesses such as Multiple sclerosis, and several other endeavours, all changing lives for the better.

Most astounding to most of us is that Dr. Petit managed to create and organize this extremely successful Foundation during a time when his own body and psyche were very much still in the process of healing; healing from injuries and post trauma inflicted within the same crimes that took the lives of his wife and daughters; Jennifer, Hayley and Michaela Petit. Those injuries included severe head and brain trauma  and  blood loss that nearly cost him his life: He was hospitalized for five days before being discharged, only to attend the funerals and memorialize his family.

Since those dark days in the summer and fall of 2007, Bill Petit  has been through many, many challenges that would daunt even the most stalwart person of faith. And yet, he  managed to not simply survive a feat within itself, but bit by bit he mustered the strength to make the traverse from victim to survivor, and then purveyor of good, affecting a widespread charitable movement of sorts that began with a handful of words that he made to the crowd that gathered at his family's memorial.

"If there is anything to be gained by the senseless murders of my beautIful family, let it be for all of us to  go forward and embrace a faith that embodies action; help a neighbor, fight for a cause, love your family. Continue the kindness and idelaism that defined these three women's lives"

And the recounting of  eleven year old daughter Michaela's favorite quote on her facebook page:
"You must be the change that you wish to see in this world"  "Be the change" has become the watchword of The foundation and all of the allied community efforts,  to raise money always for those struggling, suffering and in need.

Clearly an exceptionally caring and thoughtful girl, when she chose those words of Mahatma Gandhi, Michaela unwittingly pre-destined the core mission of the future Petit Family Foundation, as well as becoming the spark to an en-masse good works movement that began in the wake of the crimes that stole her young life; Crimes that took place in the suburbs of Hartford but whose ripple effects were felt continents away.

And William Petit Jr.brought all of this to us. He was, and still is, the messenger.Not only a victim of severe brutality and violence, he lost his wife, his daughters and his home within this terrible set of crimes. He could have easily chosen to curl up in the fetal position and give up on life. Few would blame him, many would expect it. But he didn't. Instead, he carried his family forward into this world, by doing what they might do if they were still with us. And he asked us all to try to emulate the kind and giving qualities that these three  people graced this world with.