My father, Vince Franklin, was killed in the early morning hours of April 2 while coming home from a late night shift at work.
In the weeks, months, and years that followed, I felt disconnected from the world around me. This event not only took my own father away from me but also took away my hopes for the future, my ability to connect with others around me, and ultimately, took away my childhood. For a long time, I felt alone and struggled with anxiety and depression.
Fortunately, my support network, including my amazing friends, family, and therapists, did not give up on me. Now, at 22, I’m able to confidently and positively cope and thrive in the world around me.
But I would be failing myself and millions of other children who have lost parents, siblings, and others from gun violence if I sat back and did not attempt to help heal people who are going through the same feelings I also felt.
This summer, I will be a camp counselor at Experience Camps. Experience camps give children who have lost loved ones an opportunity to feel like kids again. The free one-week summer camps have locations all across the United States and, as one camper puts it, is “the best week of the year” for hundreds of kids who have gone through incredible trauma and heartache.
$1,000 is enough to cover one week at camp for a camper. As this year marks the 7th years since my Dad’s passing, I’m looking to raise $1,000 for Experience Camps in 7 days. Whether you have been affected by loss or know someone who is grieving, I hope you can help contribute to this cause and help more kids feel like themselves again.