The family of a Parkland shooting victim visits a memorial for the Boulder King Soopers shooting
The family of a student killed in the mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018, is on a national tour.
They’re raising awareness about the impact of gun violence on families and communities.
On Friday, July 28, they came through Colorado where they visited several mass shooting sites including King Soopers in Boulder, Columbine, and Aurora.
A converted yellow school bus pulled into the parking lot of King Soopers at Table Mesa in Boulder, emblazoned with messages like “Stop Gun Violence” and “Save Lives.”
Onboard is the family of Joaquin Oliver, one of the 17 people killed in Parkland, Florida, and they’ve come to meet family members of those killed two years ago here at King Soopers.
Manuel Oliver, Joaquin Oliver's father, says the tour aims to raise awareness about gun violence but also gives them a chance to connect with communities who have been impacted.
“It's a legit exchange of support. I mean, I'm not a journalist, we're not a rock band on tour, we're not politicians on a campaign,” he said.
“We just, we know what it feels (like), and I know that when we have some conversations with these parents, we feel each other and we support each other. We feel better.”
Patricia Oliver, Joaquin’s mother, placed a rock in the memorial garden beside the parking lot at King Soopers, where 10 trees were planted to honor the 10 who died on March 22, 2021.
“The rock is a symbol of remembrance. It's a symbol that we know we are Parkland and these rocks were made for a group of women from Parkland," she said.
"And we all remember everybody that is going through this situation. So every time I place a rock, it means that you know, that there is a group behind that cares about the issue. And I think that's important to bring love and to bring remembrance because sometimes many, many, many survivors feel left apart," said Oliver.
And we are willing to pay respect to every single memorial that we're going to be seeing during the way, because everybody deserves that moment.”
While the Oliver family is bringing a message of support and solidarity to communities touched by gun violence, Manuel Oliver says he wants their message to resonate with communities who have not lived through such a tragedy, yet.
“We are warning you, and we're giving you details that I never got from anyone. I wish I had gotten this message before so I could do something and be strong before a tragedy that will just make me strong, because I'm fighting the fact that I'm not strong at all,” he said.
“Guac’s Magical Tour,” a nod to Joaquin’s nickname, will stop in 27 communities, all touched by gun violence, culminating with a caravan of 23 buses going to Washington D.C. later this summer.
Joaquin Oliver would have turned 23 on August 4.
This story was shared with KSUT via Rocky Mountain Community Radio, a network of public media stations in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and New Mexico, including KSUT.
Copyright 2023 Aspen Public Radio.