If he ever died in a school shooting, Scott Beigel told his mother, he didn’t want to be the one in the spotlight.
Whenever they talked about shootings, her son would get “intensely angry” at the media for focusing on the victims rather than doing something to prevent gun deaths, Linda Beigel Schulman told CNN on Tuesday.
Beigel, a geography teacher and cross country coach, was one of 17 people killed last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, as he held the door open for students to escape.
But Parkland couldn’t help but put him in the spotlight. Over 800 students, staff and members of the community gathered at Pine Trails Park on Tuesday evening for “Parkland’s Run 4 Beigel,” a cross country run to remember the beloved teacher and coach.
“He’s probably looking down freaking out,” Schulman said.
Word spread about the event over the weekend after a flier was posted to social media using the hashtag #runwithcoachbeigel.
The hashtag went viral, allowing those who couldn’t make it to participate by running in their areas, and to show their support from all across the country.
The participants ran around a field about two miles from the high school. At one point, the crowd erupted in applause for the 12 to 15 sheriff’s deputies, some of whom ran in their uniforms.
Kelsey Friend, a freshman who survived the tragedy, said that Beigel “will forever be my hero.”
“I will never forget the actions that he took for me and for fellow students in the classroom,” she said.
Schulman said that her son’s actions last week did not surprise her.
“Those were … his life rules. You take care of the people around you,” she said.
A memorial was held after the run, at which Schulman called for a solution to mass shootings at schools.
“I will do everything I can in my power to fix this,” she said. “Scott is going to watch over us and help us fix this.”