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Columbine survivors share journey of trauma recovery with UNK

UNK welcomed speakers last Tuesday who survived the 1999 Columbine High School shooting. Presenters, Amy Over and Zachary Cartaya enlightened students on “Running the Marathon of Trauma Recovery.”

Over and Cartaya were both members of the Columbine class of 1999, and they have since-been recovering.

“Recovery is a marathon — not a race,” Over said, remembering what her principal told her.

Mental Health Awareness week is Oct. 3-9. The title of their presentation, Running the Marathon of Trauma Recovery,” was inspired by their principal at the time. The night of the shooting, students and the community of Littleton, Colorado gathered at a church to hear Principal Frank DeAngelis speak to the community. 

This paved the road to Cartaya and Over’s healing. 

Both presenters shared with students their stories from the day of the shooting, as well as the trauma that followed throughout their life. 

Cartaya closed his story by telling students the reality of his marathon. 

“I didn’t run my marathon,” Cortaya said. “I thought it was a race, I thought it was over. I thought the trauma was over.” 

Cartaya proceeded to tell the audience the dangers of not dealing with depression and the lasting effects of trauma.  

Over started her story with the day that led up to the shooting. 

The night before the shooting, Amy received an offer to play basketball for a junior college in Colorado. 

The morning of April 20, 1999, Amy thanked her coach for everything he had done for her and said goodbye. Little did Amy know that would be her last time talking with Coach Sanders. Coach Sanders was shot and killed later that day. 

Amy expressed the importance of thanking her coach for the last time but also shared her lasting effects of trauma throughout her marathon.  

Over and Cartaya are members of The Rebel’s Project. The Rebel’s Project is a nonprofit organization for victims of mass shootings that provide mental health resources. 

The Rebel’s Project is involved in 120 communities worldwide. Recently, Over made a podcast titled, “Confronting Columbine” that shared stories of the event. 

The Columbine classmates inspired UNK students, despite the dark reality. Over and Cartaya encouraged students to be the change they want to see in the future.  

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