It’s a place to reflect. A place to refuel. Sometimes it’s a place to feel sad. And Rick Townsend thinks it’s a place that should be as perfect as it can be.
“We’re at the Columbine Memorial,” Townsend said. “The place was put here for reflection and remembrance, and honoring what went on at the Columbine event in 1999.”
Townsend comes here every few weeks. He’s a board member of the Columbine Memorial Foundation, but he’s also the father of one of the 13 killed at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999.
“Because of that it’s important to me—I can come here and read the words that she wrote,” Townsend said. “And I get a feel for not only what I’ve lost, but for what was lost all around.”
A few years ago, the concrete at the entrance of the memorial started to buckle and crack.
“It broke your heart when you walked in the main entrance and there were cracks in the cement,” said Frank DeAngelis, former Columbine High School principal. “We just want to make sure this memorial reflects everything those poor kids deserve.”
They searched for a contractor to remove the concrete. The foundation had a budget and were ready to get the project started, but no one was calling back. And then, 9NEWS broadcast a story on October 10, 2016, and Townsend said the response was overwhelming. More than 60 viewers contacted him, wanting to help finish the project in time for the 18th anniversary of the shooting.
“Talk about team effort it really was--we’re all Columbine,” DeAngelis said.
Part of that team who heard about the issues on 9NEWS was Robert Montoya with LEM Landscaping.
“We heard the story at 9:30 and contacted them at 9:32,” Montoya said.
Montoya said this project felt different for everyone involved. Elite Hardscapes and Lee Walhiem Excavating also helped with the project, which took about two weeks.
“We felt like there was a lot of angels working with us, on this project,” Montoya said. “You feel the love—it’s just a different feeling.”
Although Pavestone of Denver donated the pavers needed to complete the walkway, and the contractors worked at reduced rates, project costs ended up totaling $51,000.
“It ended up being more expensive than we thought,” Townsend said. “But it looks wonderful--it looks like it should’ve been this way from the beginning.”
To learn more about the Columbine Memorial Foundation and how to donate to the project, go to their website.