CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- On April 20, 1999, 17-year-old Rachel Scott was the first person to be shot and killed in the deadliest school massacre in U.S. history.
Rachel was having lunch outside Columbine High School when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold starting shooting. They killed 12 students and one teacher, and wounded 23 others, before taking their own lives.
Rachel's father, Darrell Scott, recounted the day in a presentation at NewsChannel 36 in February.
Scott said in the days and weeks after his daughter's death, he learned that she had quietly touched the lives of dozens of students through small acts of kindness.
"When Rachel was 13 years old, she drew an outline of her hands on the back of her dresser and she wrote, 'These hands belong to Rachel Joy Scott and will someday touch millions of peoples' hearts.' We found that two years after she died," Scott said.
Stories shared by Rachel's classmates and writings in her personal journals prompted Scott to continue the mission Rachel had begun.
"She wrote that she was going to start a chain reaction of kindness that will ripple around the world, and she has. She wrote that her hands were going to touch the hearts of millions, and she has," Scott said.
Rachel's Challenge is just that -- a challenge to students to treat each other with kindness and compassion.
"Built into her story are a number of challenges, like a challenge to look for the best in others, eliminate prejudice, set goals, dare to dream, treat others with kindness, that our words have the power to hurt or to heal people," Scott said.
NewsChannel 36 is partnering with Rachel's Challenge to bring that message to local schools in the Charlotte area.
"We know from past history that we're going to see suicides prevented. We're going to possibly see school shootings prevented," Scott said. "We've seen that happen eight times in the last 11 years, but we've seen over 400 suicides prevented in the last two years."
In the coming weeks, NewsChannel 36 will feature stories on local students who have accepted Rachel's Challenge and the impact they're making in their schools.
For more information on Rachel's Challenge, visit http://www.rachelschallenge.org.