Make Schools Safe was founded by Lori and Ilan Alhadeff, who lost their beautiful 14-year old daughter, Alyssa, to the brutal shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Valentine’s Day 2018. Alyssa was bright, energetic, happy, athletic – a pure ray of sunshine who lit up every room with her warm smile. She was an honor student, a good friend who was known to stay up later than she should have in order to support others, a winning debater, and a star soccer player, the captain of her traveling team.
Alyssa was the kind of girl whom every mother wants their daughter to be friends with, and whom any parent would be proud of. She was playful, loved dancing, singing, and family beach days on Long Beach Island, New Jersey. At the same time that she was a fierce attacking soccer mid-fielder, she loved clothes, makeup, and all things sparkly off the field. She was the best big sister to her two younger brothers and a mentor to her younger cousins.
Alyssa, #8 on the soccer field, often marveled at how her number, when rotated 90 degrees, signifies infinity. Her favorite color was aqua, actually known as the color of protection that wards off the evil eye. We honor her with the infinity and colors in our logo – a symbol of constant alertness that contributes to the safety of our youth.
In their grief, the Lori and Ilan Alhadeff founded Make Schools Safe, Inc. so that no other parent has to endure the pain they live with.
Many protocols went amiss at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on the tragic day of the shooting. First, there was no perimeter fence to deter the shooter from entering. Second, he walked through an open door. Alyssa’s room was the first one the shooter hit. She was shot immediately, but after the shooter left there was a period during which Alyssa was alive and could move to a designated safe zone in the classroom. She didn’t know where to hide, where the safe zone was.
What happened? There was no guidance. When the shooter returned, our Alyssa was shot again… and again… and again. This did not have to happen!
Alyssa and the 16 other victims of this atrocity are the impetus for change. It is their spirits that give Make Schools Safe the strength to find ways to protect schools everywhere. With their loss, Lori and Ilan feel they have been called to action. The Alhadeffs are now the voice of Alyssa, leading this mission.
Alyssa often used her hands to make the symbol of a heart in photos, a sign she and her friends used among each other. This has become an emblem for us as it is with love that we meet our mission head-on.
This not just a campaign in the name of Alyssa Alhadeff. We are honoring the lives of the victims of Parkland: Martin Duque Anguiano (14), Nicholas Dworet (17), Jaime Guttenberg (14), Luke Hoyer (15), Cara Loughren (14), Gina Montalto (14), Joaquin Oliver (17), Alaina Petty (14), Meadow Pollack (18), Helena Ramsay (17), Alex Schachter (14), Carmen Schentrup (16), and Peter Wang (15), and faculty members Scott Beigel (35), Aaron Feis (37), and Chris Hixon (49).
It is a fight for our country.