On February 14, 2018, Alaina Petty died at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the horrific shooting that left 17 dead and 17 injured. She was only fourteen. One year later, the Latter-day Saint teen is remembered by her family, friends, and community for her vibrant determination and community service.
“She was our youngest child…just a sweetheart, friends with everyone, inclusive. She taught me a lot and she’s still teaching me to this day,” Ryan Petty told CBS’s Jim Berry as the one year anniversary of her death neared.
Alaina was an active participant in her church youth group and a member of the Junior ROTC at school. She traveled with her ward to help those affected by Hurricane Irma, “mucking out homes and trying to help families that had lost everything in the flood waters and the hurricanes.”
In their original statement in the aftermath of the shooting, the Petty family said, “While we will not have the opportunity to watch her grow up and become the amazing woman we know she would become, we are keeping an eternal perspective. We are grateful for the knowledge that Alaina is a part of our eternal family and that we will reunite with her. This knowledge and unabiding faith in our Heavenly Father’s plan gives us comfort during this difficult time.”
For her father, Alaina’s death spurred a commitment to change. Since her death, Petty has worked tirelessly as a school safety activist. He played an integral role in ensuring the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act moved through the Florida Legislature, which added policed and armed guards to all public schools, placed a focus on mental health, and improved background checks for guns.d serves as a member of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission.
Part of the commission’s job was to investigate the tragedy and address the issues surrounding it. On January 2, 2019, the commission provided it’s final 446-page report to the state of Florida.
“It was a very painful process and a very personal process for me to go through,” Petty said. The process included hearing testimonials and watching video footage from inside the school.
The WalkUp Foundation, a non-profit organization, was also founded by the Petty family. It works “to prevent the causes of violence in our schools, through advocacy for programs and policies focused on early identification and intervention of at-risk youth.” You can learn more on the foundation’s website and Facebook page.
Featured Image | Petty Family
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.