Slain student's family coping one year later

Parents rally against gun violence
May 9, 2008 4:09:26 PM PDT
One year ago Saturday, an innocent Chicago high school student was shot and killed while riding a CTA bus home from school.

Since then, the parents of Blair Holt have been on a crusade to protect other young people from deadly gun violence.

For both of the teen's parents, Ron, a Chicago police officer, and Annette, a fire department captain, everyday of the past year has been difficult. But Saturday will be especially difficult. Their lives, and their missions in life forever changed last year on May 10.

The walls in Ron Holt's home still are filled with pictures of his son, Blair, one year after he was killed. The father says the photographs help him to deal with loss of his son.

He also says each one tells a story of a moment in time.

"That picture is so real," Ron Holt said pointing to one photo. "It's like his eyes talk to me. It's almost as if he's here in some small way.

In the year since his son's funeral, police officer Ron Holt has become one of this city's most recognizable anti-violence activists.

"Aren't you tired of going to funerals," he said to a crowd assembled. "How do we get through and work through our tragedy? We triumph over tragedies."

Ron Holt, Blair's mother, Annette Nance Holt, and parents of other children lost to gun violence have formed a group called Purpose Over Pain. Members advocate gun law change, provide peer support for those who have had to bury a child, and seek to educate.

Gun violence has such a high cost, Holt believes, it should be part of the public school curriculum.

"It has become a health and safety issue. You could have authority figures like police officers, firefighters, doctors, nurses and paramedics who are qualified to speak to the issues in schools about the impact," Ron Holt said.

"There is something abnormal about children who die before their parents," the father said to a crowd.

Ron Holt is on a life mission no parent would ever want. He has low moments and, sometimes, he forgets his son is gone. He picked up his phone to call Blair once.

"And I caught myself. I said, 'Oh.' Those things [happen]. My mom said it's going to happen for a while," Ron Holt said.

The pain, one year later, still is raw for both of Blair's parents, but they believe, in small ways, they're making a difference.

" 'What can I do to help?' When a person says that, and you've never met them before, obviously it's touched a nerve," the father said.

Blair's mother Annette told ABC7 Friday that the love she shared with her son is her source of strength. And, while she is not particularly comfortable in so public a mission, she pushes on because her son would want it that way.

Ron Holt agrees. This is a tough, tough time, but he says, staying busy with the message is the best therapy.


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