Some of the families of the Parkland victims met with President Donald Trump at the White House this week to celebrate the launch of a new initiative to make schools in the U.S. safer.
Tony Montalto lost his daughter Gina in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre on Valentine’s Day 2018.
This Friday marks two years since the shooting.
“For my family, we miss our daughter Gina very much. Tomorrow just magnifies that day,” Montalto said.
He turned his heartache into action.
Montalto is the president of Stand with Parkland, a group for families of the victims.
He also put his life on hold to solely focus on keeping students safe in schools.
That conversation led him to the Oval Office, where he sat right next to President Trump in a meeting he hosted for some of the families to discuss a federal school safety clearinghouse the group worked on a website, SchoolSafety.gov.
During the meeting, Montalto said the President told him he wants to “to prevent another Parkland.”
The Department of Homeland Security then officially announced the site’s launch.
“It was a great day to put politics and personal feelings aside for everybody in this country as we saw the office of the President of the United States focus and the energy of four of his cabinet positions to create and the website. SchoolSafety.gov is a one stop shop now for school officials that are in charge in with keeping our students and staff safe,” Montalto said.
“It is a big piece of what we’ve been advocating for with Stand with Parkland” said Tom Hoyer, father who also lost his son, Luke, in the shooting.
Hoyer said his visit to Washington D.C. was in honor of his son.
“It felt good that something was getting done,” he said.
He explained that SchoolSafety.gov provides information for parents, students and educators on everything from mental health, responsible firearm ownership and the physical safety in schools.
“If you can’t prevent somebody from getting on to campus, you got to give everybody on the school campus a chance to survive,” Hoyer said.
This week’s steps are bittersweet for Hoyer and his wife, Gena.
Because Luke loved basketball, they set up a fund to pay for sports equipment and fees for children in foster care.
Hoyer said the fund helps them to participate in sports outside the school, everything from soccer clubs, karate and dance.
“I’m sure Luke would’ve enjoyed watching and probably would’ve enjoyed participating in a lot of it, except dance,” Hoyer said with a smile on his face.