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It was a regular school day. Laura Green, a 14-year-old freshman, threw on a powder-blue tank top, a matching cardigan, a khaki skirt and a pair of Doc Martens. She had two weeks left in the school year at Columbine High. After months of cold days, the sun was finally out. Her town, Littleton, Colorado, looked bright and majestic.
As she sat down in the passenger seat of the car her older sister, Sarah Green, 16, was driving on April 20, 1999, Laura thought to herself, "It's going to be a good day."
Three hours after they left their house. That's all it took for their lives to change forever when one of the school's janitors yelled, "Run, somebody is shooting." Laura dropped her pizza and sprinted up the stairs from the cafeteria. She stood shoulder to shoulder with 40 other kids in the choir office. She fixed her eyes on the ceiling, hoping the space above them might help her breathe through the intense claustrophobia. They had barricaded the door with two desks and a cabinet.
During the same time, Sarah was taking a math test. She dropped her pen in fear when baseball coach Robin Ortiz slammed the door open and told them to "get the hell out; somebody is shooting." She ran out the main entrance and stopped only when she found some classmates in the field across from the school. She watched as the SWAT team members arrived 47 minutes later and positioned themselves behind their vehicle just as bullets began to fly toward them.
Chaos ensued, and it wasn't until four hours later that the SWAT team kicked down the door of the choir office and ordered the kids to place their hands on their heads and walk out in a single file.
They were taken out through the back entrance, the glass windows shot in, the doors unhinged. With her hands on her head, Laura had to step over the dead body of a classmate she had grown up with since second grade. She was hyperventilating, and tears poured down her face.
That was 20 years ago. The 1999 Columbine High School shooting, in which 12 students and one teacher were killed, changed the Green sisters' lives forever, robbing them of a normal high school experience, of being able to sleep in their own rooms at night, of feeling safe at school. But through the uncertainty of it all, they found one thing -- one common thing -- that saved them. Running.
Running gave them a sense of purpose and focus -- it gave them a chance to slowly heal. On Monday, Laura and Sarah will tackle their ultimate goal and compete in the Boston Marathon.
Training together for Boston has been special for Sarah and Laura. They ran the Orcas Island 32-miler together in February, finishing hand-in-hand. When Laura needed a water break, Sarah waited for her, and when Sarah needed to catch a breath, Laura held her hand as they slowed down. They found an emotional release, a sense of accomplishment, especially after a long race.
Finishing the Boston Marathon together a few days before the 20th anniversary of the April 20, 1999, shooting would be their way of showing the world that it's possible for survivors to move forward and find a sense of serenity after a life-altering event. Not to mention tackling one of the toughest and most prestigious marathons in the world.
"When we see the famous Citgo sign, we know we will only have 1 mile left," said Laura, referring to the iconic image near the end of the Boston Marathon.
"And I asked Sarah, 'How am I supposed to keep it together?' She said, 'You won't, you just have to allow yourself to cry.'"(04/12/2019) ⚡AMP
The Boston Marathon is the world's oldest annual marathon and ranks as one of the world's best-known road racing events. The event attracts 500,000 spectators each year, making it New England's most widely viewed sporting event. Though starting with 18 participants in 1897, the event now attracts over 20,000 registered participants each year. You have to qualify to participate. Among...more...