Colorado-based group for mass shooting survivors: ‘We’ve noticed a huge growth’

DENVER -- After the Aurora theater shooting in 2012, The Rebels Project was born.

A group of Columbine High School graduates and survivors of the 1999 shooting started the support group to help others experiencing similar emotional and psychological trauma.

The group expanded from roughly 400 survivors to 650 in the first two months of 2018, according to group leaders.

“It’s the worst and best thing -- having a growing family of survivors,” Columbine survivor Zach Cartaya said.

Some of the most recent members have joined from Parkland, Florida. Members are focused on helping others recover from trauma they will never forget.

“I just want to wrap my arms around [the Parkland survivors] and give them a big hug,” Columbine survivor Amy Over said.

Group members from the Denver area said they will wait until the right time -- whenever that is -- to meet survivors in Florida face-to-face.

“The children in Florida who were coming out of Douglas High School with their hands up -- that really resonated with me and that was a trigger for me,” Columbine survivor Missy Mendo said.

The Rebels Project offers healing online while also uniting in person every year to connect and to learn from one another.

A sixth annual silent auction fundraiser will be held in April to raise money for travel expenses.

The auction, scheduled for April 21 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., will be held at FanDraught Sports Brewery at 19340 Cottonwood Drive in Parker.