With just weeks left in Barack Obama's presidency, Congress has overwhelmingly passed a bill focused on medical research and mental health reform.
Joining in the effort to get that bill passed was the Sandy Hook Promise, and parents who lost children in the school shooting that happened four years ago when he was killed inside Sandy Hook Elementary School alongside 25 other students and educators.
"If you take everything we're doing at Sandy Hook Promise and boil it down to one mission, it's to prevent other families from having to live this pain,” said Mark Barden, who lost his son Daniel in the 2012 tragedy. "We train people to recognize the signs and symbols of somebody who may be on the way to hurting themselves or others, and getting that person on the way to the help they need before tragedy ever happens."
Part of Barden’s work with the federal government since the tragedy has been to pass a substantial mental health care reform package introduced by Senator Chris Murphy.
"We do know that in the case of what happened at Sandy Hook, the individual who shot and killed my little Daniel had been planning this for probably a year or even more, and there were many, many, many signs that were missed,” Barden said.
This week, he traveled to Washington DC as that reform package headed to the senate floor, now part of the sweeping multi-billion dollar 21st Century Cures Act.
It boosts spending for medical research on cancer and other diseases, while addressing the mental health crisis and opioid epidemic.
Barden said he believes it'll provide more opportunities for those who need help. He's hoping to be there when President Obama signs it into law.
“It's a great feeling because this is hard work at every step of the way, and to have a major success like this is a huge lift. It's always tempered with why we're here and what brought us here and what gave rise to this organization in the first place,” Barden said.
The Sandy Hook Promise will continue to work on programs in schools and communities across the country.
Their PSA released last week has been viewed more than 72 million times, encouraging everyone know the signs, before tragedy strikes.
"I feel like it's the best way to honor my little Daniel, who spent his short life looking out for other people,” Barden said.
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