Neighborhood friend to raise money for Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung Memorial Fund
It has been nearly one year since Adam Lanza entered the elementary school known as Sandy Hook in Newtown, Conn. and proceeded to kill 20 children and six staff members in a murderous rampage before taking his own life. Among the deceased was the school's principal, Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, a Towanda native who had moved on to pursue her dreams of being an educator.
Recently, Roger Wooster, also a Towanda native who group up several houses away from Dawn on York Avenue and who is now living in East Norwich, N.Y., announced an effort that will help keep his childhood friend's memory alive. He has been training to complete the Spartan Trifecta to raise money for a Memorial fund established in Dawn's memory. One of the Trifecta events, The Super, was held on Sept. 7 in New Jersey and a second one, The Beast, is planned for Sept. 21 in Killington, Vermont. Roger says he is participating in these Trifecta events in Hochsprung's honor.
According to Roger, Spartan Race is a leader in the sport of Obstacle Racing. Spartan has events all over the country, and to some extent, the world, virtually every week. The races vary in length with The Sprint being roughly four miles, The Super, eight to 10 miles and The Beast is 12 miles. If an individual completes a race of each of these lengths in a calendar year, they become a member of the Trifecta Tribe.
Roger has committed to becoming a member of the Trifecta Tribe, and after completing two Sprints this year, and a Super last Saturday in New Jersey, he will now be ready to compete in The Beast. "Spartan has allowed me to have individuals 'sponsor' me in Dawn's honor to do this," said Wooster. He added, "A person can go to my webpage at Crowdrise [www.crowdrise.com/RogerforDawn/Fundraiser/rogerwooster], and they can donate money which goes to Dawn's foundation."
Roger knew Dawn (Lafferty at that time) from kindergarten through sixth grade, at which time (1977 or 78) she moved to Connecticut.
They parted ways as young children.
Wooster, now 48, moved away from Towanda in 1985. He noted that he left after graduation from college because he was "drawn to the lights of the New York Metropolitan area."
Dawn had moved away at the age of 12, after her father accepted a job in Naugatuck, Conn. After high school graduation she pursued her career in education, and eventually landed her last position as the principal at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, a school that now bears the name that will be etched in history.
The Newtown shooting was the second largest massacre in the history of the United States, second only to the massacre at Virginia Tech in 2007 that left 32 dead and 17 injured.
When Wooster learned about the shooting, and the involvement of his childhood friend, who was dubbed a hero for her attempts to thwart the attack, he described his emotional shock and disbelief.
"I was at a Tony Danza event when I learned that Dawn was taken," Roger said in a recent interview. "My reaction was shock and feeling ill in my stomach. We left before the show was over and I went on my blackberry and when I saw her picture my legs were shaking. It was staggering."
He felt compelled to do something in light of this tragic event. He said he had been doing obstacle races for more than two years, and described his level as that of a middle aged man. "I struggle with the rope climb and some of the other obstacles; I'm not elite by any stretch, but I think I make up the majority of the participants in that we get off the couch and get out there."
His idea to do these most recent events in Dawn's honor came from the Sandy Hook tragedy and his memories of her from his years growing up. He recalled they had large back yards and woods, and did all kinds of activities like playing kickball, tag, war, baseball, and hide and go seek. A lot of it, he said, involved mud in the woods. Roger
said he mentally connected the Spartan type obstacle races with what he and Dawn did as kids.
His hope through this fundraiser is to honor Dawn's legacy and provide tangible dollars to worthy students through her scholarship fund. He also wanted to do it in an activity which is similar to what they did as kids.
"This makes it special and personal to me," he said.
He invites anyone who would wish to contribute to this cause, to visit www.crowdrise.com/RogerforDawn/Fundraiser/rogerwooster, and click on "Donate" in the upper right hand corner.
Roger also hopes to send the message that "even in the worst of events; we can do something for the greater good."Provided Photo