I actually know exactly when I realized we would all be okay.
It was in the middle of a muddy cornfield, with smoking fire sculptures, freezing, dirty kids, bands blaring Irish music, and lots and lots of strangers – laughing, running, hugging, and climbing, then eventually, drinking, eating and dancing.
Kids were free falling into waves of mud; rolling, picking themselves up and doing it all over again; laughter echoing and teeth chattering throughout the Mohawk Valley.
The Daniel Barden Highland Mudfest in upstate New York, was started by Deansboro residents Dan and Melissa Williams who “had to do something” after the Sandy Hook shooting. (Their sister Karin is a Sandy Hook resident, local hero, and very impressive human.) So they physically ‘minecrafted’ their MKJ Farm to raise funds and awareness for Daniel Barden’s memory, creating a Daniel Barden Highlands Mudfest, complete with bagpipes, bands, kilts, and plenty of mud.
It was there, on the coldest day April ever saw, that I knew we would be able to go on.
The MacTitans, an entire Newtown youth soccer team, came with cleats, game faces, siblings, parents and coaches, all wearing kilts, or green tutus, face paint, and smiles.
Our own hodgepodge team, the Newtown Cannonballs, with #NewtownStrong hashtagged proudly on our backs, began to get a little nervous. People were serious about this inaugural Mudfest. Perhaps were in a little over our heads.
And magic happened.
We pulled into a dairy farm, parked in a frozen field, and saw truckloads of people rambling up the field. Moms, dads, teens, and tots. College kids, townies, farmers and firefighters. All there for Daniel.
We met up with our team, and ventured to the starting line. It was like Woodstock: music blasting, people everywhere, hugging, dancing, laughing. And it wasn’t sad. Not at all. It was happy. Festive. Fun.
Joyous. Kind. And very positive. Very, very Daniel.
Thank you Barden Family, for sharing Daniel‘s message of kindness with the world.
Thank you Sandy Hook Promise for committing due diligence to protect families everywhere.
And thank you Compeer Project for thinking globally and acting locally; for being the change so many kids need.
Thank you especially to the Williams family for creating the Mudfest and helping us all make the world a little smaller, a little kinder, and much, much stronger. And for letting this Newtown mom know that tomorrow will be a better day if you just add a little mud to the mix.
This year’s Mudfest is Saturday, April 5th, a day long event dedicated to peace, love and kindness. This is not just a muddy competition, it’s a open invitation to do something that matters. Join us. It’s what Daniel Would Do!
*Please commit to doing any action possible to make a positive change where you live, so our story doesn’t become your story. Join a group in your community. Send an email. Be a friend. Find a cause. Share on Facebook. Hold a sign. Make a difference.