Phoenix 999 was created and established by survivors of the Columbine High School Massacre in the wake of the Aurora, Colorado Theater shooting to provide financial and educational resources to victims of mass violence and individuals suffering from the crippling effects of PTSD.
Phoenix 999 is a nationally recognized and accredited 501(c)(3) organization. Phoenix 999 conducts outreach and hosts support groups across the country through our first programmatic venture; The Rebels Project.
Through our mission, we intend to strengthen communities and individuals, both mentally and financially, and to offer protection from and potentially avert other occurrences of mass violence.
Finally, Phoenix 999, through The Rebels Project, seeks to transition PTSD sufferers from helpless victims to empowered survivors.
The Rebels Project:
The Rebels Project has successfully connected survivors across the country creating a familial community through social media networking. Through our website, Facebook, and Twitter, survivors can share stories, ideas, coping strategies, and provide general emotional support to one and other.
Furthermore, The Rebels Project hosts an annual survivors gathering brining survivors from across the country together. The gathering offers classes, restorative yoga, access to mental health professionals, and tours of Colorado landmarks. Phoenix 999 provides grants for airfare and lodging for all attendees.
Finally, The Rebels Project connects survivors to crisis services and makes referrals to mental health professionals.
• July 2012: Formation of Phoenix 999
• August 2012: First formal support meeting held and formal outreach to victims of the Aurora Theater shooting began.
• November 2012: First fundraiser held
• December 2012: Formal outreach to the victims of Sandy Hook began
• January 2013: Successfully delivered over 1,500 teddy bears with personalized messages to the children at Sandy Hook
• March 2013: Service delivery model adopted by the board
• September 2013: Established a community partnership with the Avielle Foundation
• October 2013: Formal 501(c)(3) recognition
• December 2013: Expanded social media outreach
• April 2014: Hosted our first April Event to Remember
• August 2014: Began traveling to other sites of mass violence
• December 2014: Began outreach to Arapahoe High School victims
• April 2015: Organization featured on Dateline NBC
• October 2015: Began working to help children with trauma from Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI's)
• January 2016: Reorganized the nonprofit and monthly support meetings
• February 2016: Formally launched our first programmatic venture: The Rebels Project
• August 2016: Hosted our first "Survivor's Gathering".
• December 2016: First grant award received
• January 2017: Launched the new www.rebelsproject.org website
• February 2017: Participated in the University of Phoenix Mental Health Symposium
• July 2017: Participated in the Columbine Briefings Symposium
• August 2017: Hosted second annual "Survivors Gathering" adding additional mental health services, scholarships, and grants.
Dear Sir or Madam:
I am writing this letter in support of the worthwhile venture Phoenix 999. This group was started by a group of Columbine Alumni. The students who attended Columbine during 1999-2002 were denied a normal high school life and had their lives changed forever as a result of the horrific tragedy that occurred on April 20, 1999. As the principal of Columbine High School for the past 17 years and a member of the staff for the past 34, I personally realize the impact that the Columbine tragedy had on the members of our school community.
The group's mission statement is: Phoenix 999 was created and established by survivors of the Columbine High School Massacre in the wake of the Aurora, Colorado Theater shooting, in an effort to provide financial and educational resources to victims of violence and violent crime. The mission of Phoenix 999 is to provide financial and educational resources to victims and their families affected by mass tragedy and violence. Phoenix 999 will provide these resources through several different means and channels including: Strengthening affected communities and individuals, both mentally and financially, to protect from and avert other possible tragedies.
What I have learned as a result of surviving the Columbine tragedy: we had to redefine normal. As someone told me it is "a marathon and not a sprint." Unfortunately, funds and support run out even though Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can affect people for the remainder of their lives. I am living proof of that and am fortunate that I continue to have the support I need to live a productive life.
I was naïve in thinking that there would be lessons learned as a result of the 13 lives who were lost on April 20, 1999 hoping their deaths would not be in vain. We have seen school violence and violence in communities continue. In our state alone we have offered support to Platte Canyon High School, Deer Creek Middle School, The Faith Bible School and now the Aurora victims.
I cannot stress how important it is during a time of tragedy to have the support of individuals and groups who have experienced the same loss and grief from horrific acts of violence. The members of our school community would not have recovered without the support of others who shared common experiences. Unfortunately, we are all members of a club we did not want to join. As I once read, "we cannot determine what happens to us but we can determine how we react to what happens to us." Needless to say, I am proud of our graduates who are willing to help others and fully support their efforts: and I will be joining them in many of their ventures.
Columbine High School
Dear Sir or Madam:
This letter represents my strong support for Phoenix 999. As a member of Denver City Council, I am aware of the toll that mass violence and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can take on a community and its residents. Colorado has been the site of two mass tragedies in the last fifteen years, and the communities and victims are still struggling to recover.
Phoenix 999 seeks to aid these struggling communities and was created and established by survivors of the Columbine High School Massacre in the wake of the Aurora, Colorado Theater shooting, in an effort to provide financial and educational resources to victims of mass violence. These victims will often struggle with PTSD as a result of experiencing a traumatic event. People suffering from PTSD often use "avoidance" or "emotional numbing" to detach from the traumatic situation, and because of this may not have serious manifestations of PTSD (such as anxiety disorder or severe depression) for several years.
In the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event there are multiple resources available to victims to fund their mental health treatments and recoup lost wages due to missed work time. While these resources are valuable, the organizations that distribute them often have "sunset clauses", which limit the amount of time victims have to access these funds for mental health treatment. This creates a difficult situation as PTSD symptoms often take years to manifest. Phoenix 999 has sought to remedy this by creating a permanent endowment for victims of mass violence.
Phoenix 999 seeks to combat the effects of PTSD by being their polar opposite: a tremendous force for good.
As a member of the Colorado community I fully support this organization's mission and encourage their efforts to build what is sure to be a very successful resource for those in need.
Thank you for your consideration,
Susan K. Shepherd, Councilwoman
Denver City Council District One
"I no longer cry for myself when there are other mass shootings, I cry for all of the people that will now begin the most horrific journey of becoming a part of a growing family of those touched by murder, those that thought it couldn't happen to them - now living with the disbelief that this REALLY HAPPENS and evil walks among us. I cry for the kids without fathers, the mothers without children and society without a sense of safety. The REBELS PROJECT/PHOENIX 999 is the place where those who never thought it could happen to them go to find a group of people who have traveled the path of pain and can hold hands on our walk together - along the path of healing. All Rebels Project Family never wanted to be a part of such a group - but when support and healing are needed - The Rebels Project/Phoenix 999 is there."
-Connie Sanders (Daughter of Dave Sanders, Slain Columbine Teacher)
I found out about Phoenix 999/The Rebels Project through Jennifer Hammer. She was a close family friend while we were going to Columbine. She and Heather Egland had started the group and I thought it was an amazing cause. Heather's sister and I grew up together and we went to the same schools together. I was unable to attend any meetings when it was founded because I lived on the east coast at the time. Having recently moved back, I decided to join the group to try and help others in need.
With the unfortunate trend of mass shootings that exist, it can be hard to find someone to talk to about your own personal experience. Talking to friends and family does help but I find it easier and comforting to talk to someone who has been through a similar situation. That is exactly what this group is about. People now know at at any point you can reach out and have a person to lean on.
I feel much stronger today and I find that helping others is what helps me.
Mr. Rogers said it best "When I was a boy and I would see scary things on the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in this world."
-Missy Mendo (Columbine Survivor)