Parents and teens — still grieving after one of the worst school shootings in the nation’s history — passed around a Super Bowl ring and took out their cellphones to take photos of the row of seats where New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady sits when the team goes on road trips.
The families from Parkland, Fla., who were all touched by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, said they were “treated like royalty” on Thursday when they were flown to Washington, D.C., on the Patriots’ team plane for today’s March for Our Lives against gun violence.
“They left gifts for everyone on the seats, and they took care of us. They treated us like royalty,” said Meredith Barry, who traveled with her daughter, Isabela, and other Parkland students. “These kids were there when this happened. They all went through this. We’ve all gotten very close.”
Patriots owner Bob Kraft was contacted by Mark Kelly, husband of former Arizona U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and was asked to help bring the kids and their families to Washington for the march, according to team spokesman Stacey James.
Among those on the plane were members of “ShineMSD” — a group of Marjory Stoneman Douglas students who “spread love and hope through music and art,” according to its Twitter page.
“It really put a lot of smiles on their faces,” Barry said. “I’m a Dolphins fan, but I think everyone involved has a newfound love for the Patriots after this.”
The plane left from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Thursday and the Patriots will fly the families back to Florida tomorrow. Barry said Patriots staff went all out to make them comfortable, and some said they may join them for the march.
“All of this stuff is really bittersweet. No matter what, we always remember the reason that we are here, and we wish we could turn back the clock,” said Roberta Weber, who was on the plane with her two children and Marjory Stoneman Douglas students, Jake and Melanie. “This was a nice representation of the good in people.”
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