California student runs to aid Columbine shooting victim
He raises $18,000 to help pay uninsured teen's medical bills
June 22, 1999
"I'm just overwhelmed," said Kirklin, 16, after he was presented the check at the Denver Health Medical Center. "It's really cool, just breathtaking, that someone would do this to help me."
After the Columbine massacre dropped from the front pages of newspapers across the country, Kirklin's plight was still very much on the mind of Bay Area track star Rashad Williams.
"When I first saw what happened on the news I was devastated and decided to do something," Williams said.
In order to help pay Kirklin's huge medical bills, Williams lined up sponsors and entered the annual Bay For Breakers race, a 7 1/2 mile race held every May.
"I was tired," Williams said, "But I kept thinking of Lance."
"I really felt for him because of his injury," Williams said of Kirklin, who also is an athlete. "All of them were really bad, but I could say his really jumped out at me."
"He used to play sports, now he can't play sports anymore," Williams said. "At that time it was track season for me, so I related his situation to mine: What if that would have been me? I would have missed out on the whole track season and everything, so his (situation) really caught my attention."
Williams thought he was doing well when he collected $300 in pledges. Then the mayor found out, and the media got interested and thousands of dollars began pouring in -- money much needed by the Kirklin family.
Kirklin was shot in the leg, chest and face during the Columbine attack. After several operations and rehabilitation, he faces at least four more reconstructive surgeries. The care already has led to bills of more than $1 million for a teenager with no medical insurance.
Some people have asked why a black kid would help a white kid. Williams said he just saw a person who could use some help.
"When I'm doing things, I don't look at the color of somebody's skin," Williams said. " I help people because of the situation they're in, or because they're in a time of need."
Williams' mother, Sheila Burton-Harrison, agreed with her son's motivation, saying, "We do it out of love, out of compassion."
"I always knew he had a big heart," said Anthony Harrison, father of Rashad Williams.
So far, about $100,000 in donations have been received by the Kirklin family, including the $18,000 from Williams.
Correspondent Greg Lefevre contributed to this report.
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