Not everyone could join the March for Our Lives, but that didn’t mean they weren’t rallying behind the movement.
As protesters around the world poured into the streets Saturday, those who couldn’t march – for health reasons or otherwise – found alternative ways to call for an end to gun violence.
Hartman, of Wichita, Kansas, could not withstand the physical rigors of the march due to health issues. But she sympathizes with the parents of Parkland victims.
“I want to do whatever I can do to support these kids and get stricter gun regulation in place,” said Hartman, who lost her daughter to a fatal disease in 2016. “I have a child-sized hole in my heart that, while it may heal around the edges, will always be there.
“Losing a child to gun murder? My god, that’s unforgivable and I can’t imagine the added layers of anger, grief and difficulty.”
So, Hartman got creative – literally. She painted a 15-piece sign spelling out “Enough is enough!” and donated it to local students who were asking for help with their posters.
After they marched 10 blocks to the Old Sedgwick Courthouse in Wichita, the students concluded the rally by holding up Hartman’s signs on the steps of the building. She met them there to see her artwork in action.
Like Hartman, Stow of Hillsboro, Oregon, faces physical conditions that limit her mobility. Stow suffers from myalgic encephalomyelitis – also known as chronic fatigue syndrome.
“There are millions of us worldwide that have it,” Stow told CNN. “We say we are the millions missing that nobody knows about. And this weekend we are missing the marches because of our disease.”
Stow’s pain, fatigue and neurological challenges make it difficult for her to leave the house for long periods of time. She wishes there was more visibility for people with chronic illness who cannot attend protests.
But she feels strongly about the students speaking up about school safety and wants to show solidarity with them. So Stow expresses her activism through digital channels, tweeting and sharing information about the push for stricter gun legislation.
Gerber, a freshman at East Carolina University, had wanted to march Saturday.
But she is in the ambassador program at her school and volunteers on Admitted Students’ Day, which fell on March 24 this year.
So instead, she spent the day introducing potential students to the university, giving campus tours and providing resources to help students decide if they want to attend ECU. Although she didn’t make it to a march, she is inspired by the movement.
“These past few years have brought about a lot of change, but nothing about students who are affected by mass shootings every year. It’s amazing to see people my age and younger put their foot down and have their voices heard,” she said.
Gerber has taken her voice online by signing the MFOL petition, donating money and spreading awareness about the cause. These actions, she believes, can still make a big difference.
Tuttle, from Cleveland, Ohio, agrees.
A few years ago, her younger sister survived a school shooting. The aftermath of the traumatic experience led Tuttle to develop anxiety in crowds, which prevents her from attending a large-scale event such as the march. But that doesn’t mean she’s not passionately involved.
She takes pride in seeing students stand up to the same horrific circumstances that shook her family’s core. And she stays involved in their cause.
For Tuttle, that means researching politicians and candidates so that “I know who I want to vote for to bring about the changes I want to see.”
She also tries her part to make sure the dialogue around gun violence continues. Talking to other people about the issues, she believes, is the only way to reach a solution.
“I feel for people who are unable to attend (a march) … but they need to know that even small gestures can cause a ripple of bigger affects,” Tuttle told CNN. “Talking to one person in some cases could have just as much impact as joining thousands of people in a march. Just like every vote counts, every conversation counts.”