Dentis M. Shaw drove his pink Nissan Cube nicknamed "CandleStick" all the way from Charlotte, N.C., to Monroe — a trek of over 600 miles. Shaw is on a mission to honor the memories of those who've died from violence or cancer. The tragic shooting that killed 26 innocent people at Sandy Hook Elementary School made Connecticut one of his destinations.
Shaw will share his story in the Ehler's Room of Edith Wheeler Memorial Library, 733 Monroe Turnpike in Monroe, this Sunday from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
It all started when Shaw lost Wanda, his wife of 20 years, to breast cancer in April of 2007 and on the same day of her funeral, a Virginia Tech student shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 others.
"I was hurting so bad that I wanted to be able to relate to someone that could feel what I was feeling, so I went there," Shaw said. "I wanted to do something to honor the 32 people who died at Virginia Tech and my wife Wanda."
Shaw, who is a minister, prayed with grieving students at the university.
Later that same year, Sean Taylor, star safety of the Washington Redskins, died after three men broke into his house and shot him in the leg.
The Redskins are Shaw's favorite team, so he had a sticker made with the message "Love, Forgive: Please Stop the Violence 21." Twenty-one was Taylor's jersey number and there are 21 letters in "Please stop the violence."
Shaw gave 30,000 of the stickers away.
Love, Forgive, Honor
When seeing how the victims of 9/11 were remembered one anniversary, Shaw thought of how most people stop thinking about them when the anniversary passes.
"The vision I have is to never let be gone people like my wife, like so many others that have passed on, but to remember them every day in our lives, so we wanted something that we could wear on our wrists," Shaw said.
He created an Honor Band not only to honor those who died, but for people to honor their own lives by doing better and making something of themselves. Shaw offers to speak at schools, churches and other venues, while giving away the wrist bands.
"We're never gonna sell these," Shaw told Monroe First Selectman Steve Vavrek in his town hall office Thursday afternoon. "It's free and will always be free.
During his visit, Shaw was accompanied by Monroe residents Wayne and Susie Clarke and Suzi Moutinho.
"We want to give away 6,000 Honor Bands to the city," Shaw told Vavrek, while seated around a table in the conference room.
Shaw has the lofty goal of giving away 50 million Honor Bands, one million to each state. He is founder of Athletes of America Helping Americans, Inc., and he has a website: HonorBand.org.
Angels for Sandy Hook
Shaw gave away 21,000 wrist bands to New York City firefighters and gave away Honor Bands in Arizona after Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot.
Now in Connecticut, he comes bearing circular green stickers for people in Newtown. There is a large 20 on the top representing the 20 children who were killed and a 6 on the bottom for the principal and teachers. It says "Newtown, Connecticut" and angels can be seen in the background.
"You don't have to say my name," Shaw told Vavrek. "I'll get you as many of these [to give away] as possible. We want this on the back window of a car to say, 'This can happen everywhere else.'"
Shaw promotes three words: Love, forgive and honor.
He said, "If we can teach our kids young to love, forgive and honor, if we can prevent another one, it's worth it all to me."