After a tragic week that affected one of my dearest friends, I wanted to take the time to reflect on a very special life lost during the Parkland shooting. During his funeral which was attended by over 1200 family members, friends and members of the community, I was incredibly moved by the stories that were shared by family and close friends of 14 year old Alex Schachter. What I discovered was that this very sweet boy was so good, so kind, so silly and so talented. His aunt and uncle talked about his love of movies and food – especially fruit snacks, granola bars and ice cream. His grandpa reflected on how his grandson called him up one day to ask him what instrument he played when he was kid. When his grandfather told him he played the trombone, Alex decided to follow in his footsteps and with hard work and lots of practice, eventually landed a spot on the Stoneman Douglas Marching Band. This year, the band became the #1 Marching Band in the state of Florida and Alex was thrilled.
Alex’s brothers and sisters talked about his love of movies, his obsession watching 1000 episodes of his favorite TV show and the way he’d make silly Pterodactyl noises chasing his sisters around the house. He practiced his trombone for hours, played ball with his friends and embraced life as a fun loving teen.
Alex’s friends shared their personal memories about their friend who always looked out for them and remained in close contact even when one of his buddies moved away. One of his friends wrote an incredibly moving poem about Alex and another shared how he planned to memorialize Alex by engraving his name on his shoes.
Alex’s dad shared stories of a competitive kid who loved to play basketball, travel with his family, visit with grandparents and extended family throughout the country and attend camp in Florida and on the east coast where he made even more lasting friendships. Despite a seemingly normal childhood, Alex also experienced loss in his life when his mom passed away when he was just a few years old. Soon after, my very dear friend, who had recently lost her husband, met Alex’s dad and they fell in love. My friend knew the heartbreak his family was going through and helped raise Alex and his older brother along with her two young daughters. Together, this very special family spent countless hours surrounded by family and friends and focused on the things that made their kids happy. They were and will always be role models to their children, family, friends and their entire community.
As they begin a very painful chapter in their life, the Schachter family is determined to keep Alex’s memory alive by supporting and celebrating the things he loved – from music, to his favorite smoothies to basketball. In fact, just yesterday, their local smoothie shop started selling Alex Smoothies in his memory. The family recently launched a GoFundMe campaign to support the students of the Stoneman Douglas Marching Band as well as provide necessary funds towards increased security at the high school.
At a CNN Town Hall event this week, Alex’s dad Max read a poem that his son had written for a literary fair called “Life is Like a Roller Coaster.” Alex loved roller coasters and I’m sure never imagined this prophetic poem would be his last, but it has left an impact on his family, friends, community and now, the world.
Alex Schachter was the personification of a child who was doing what he loved surrounded by people who loved him more than life itself. If there were more kids like Alex on this planet, the world would absolutely be a much better, happier and safer place. Rest in peace sweet Alex. May your memory and your spirit be an eternal blessing.
If you would like to make a donation to the Alex Schachter Scholarship Fund to support music education and increased safety in schools, please donate now to the GoFundMe page that was launched in Alex’s memory.