Welcome to the Wonder(ful) Women series! This is my newest, and most fabulously kickass series yet, because I'm featuring real-life female superheroes every week. My hope is to bring awareness to stories in the news, and make the women I know in real life realize how much they inspire me and everyone around them.
Off we go.
I'm almost completely certain that you know who she is by now, even if you don't know her name. She is the school clerk who managed to talk a heavily armed gunman down in Decatur, Georgia last week.
Michael Brandon Hill entered the elementary school with several hundred rounds of ammunition and took the front office employees hostage while he loaded the guns. Tuff, an unarmed school employee, did what she could to reach the suspect, and eventually started to tell him stories about her life, trying to get through to him that everyone has problems, but that there was no reason for anyone to die that day. She prayed. She related to him. She asked him questions about his life and what brought him to this point.
He shot a few rounds at officers outside, but eventually surrendered peacefully. No children or employees were harmed, no officers were wounded, and the suspect is in jail.
With the rise in school violence of late, and all the calls to arm school employees, I am glad that no one else inside that building was armed. I'm even more glad that Antoinette Tuff was where she was that day, and that she used the most powerful weapon of them all - her voice. She was the one talking to the dispatcher. She was the one talking to the suspect. Just her.
Thank you, Antoinette, for saving countless lives and for proving that faith and clear thinking can triumph over fear. Having courage doesn't mean you aren't afraid, it means you do the right thing anyway.
She's another woman that you probably know of, even if you might not remember her name. She is the teacher who hid her entire classroom of first graders in a bathroom during the Sandy Hook massacre, managing to keep them quiet enough that they were not discovered by the shooter.
In the months since the tragedy, she has avoided the policy arguments about the hows and whys things like this happen and what, if anything can be done to prevent them, but she has done something else entirely.
She has started an organization that connects schools with each other, allowing kids all over the country an opportunity to develop empathy with the situations of others, and gives them a chance to help other classrooms. She firmly believes that the lesson to be taken from this experience is that we need to teach children to care genuinely about other people in this world.
It is called Classes4Classes and you can find it here.
Thank you, Kaitlin, for protecting those children, and for teaching them about far more than reading, writing and arithmetic.
Unlike the other women I know in real life that have been mentioned in this series, I let Liz know that she was going to be mentioned here ahead of time because I wanted to ask her if she wanted to wait until next month for it. There's a reason.
Her blog, My Sudden Attack of Conscience, is one of the most inspiring things I've encountered on the internet ever. A self-professed formerly selfish girl, she started the project as a way to document her journey towards living a life full of giving to others. She gives her time, her energy, her resources and her money to a different charity each month. The goal is to give each charity, through her efforts to raise awareness to her fans of each one, at least $100 a month.
I'm pretty sure she has surpassed that goal every month. And if I had a reason a guess here, I'm going to say that she's transformed herself entirely already and she still has four months left in the year.
This month's charity is the Alzheimer's Association, one near and dear to my heart, and you can read about her month here. If you would like to join in and contribute to her causes, that would be fabulous! You can find her on Facebook here.
Why the sudden attack you might ask? Easy. Gratitude for all that she has, and tremendous respect for the second chance she has been given with her newly sober husband. They both ooze love and gratitude. They have completely figured out that this is what life is all about.
She is a ray of sunshine and her smile is infectious. I'm so very glad that I got to know her early on in this journey of hers because I can honestly say that I've been a witness to watching her grow into this ridiculously amazing person more and more every day.
Liz, you are an inspiration. You are what gratitude looks like. You are a gift to this world, and I'm so very glad that you've decided to share this journey with us all.
I'm proud to call you a friend. Love you.
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