Matthew Badger lost his three daughters in a Christmas morning fire. Judy Shepard’s son was murdered in a notorious hate crime. How have they been able to move forward after incredible loss? The two parents talk about making sense of senseless tragedies, honoring their children’s memories and rebuilding their lives.
Matthew Badger just endured the first anniversary of the day that his life changed forever. Last Christmas, his three daughters, nine-year-old Lily and seven-year-old twins Sarah and Grace, lost their lives in a tragic house fire in Stamford, Connecticut.
“I kept thinking it was a nightmare.” -Matthew Badger
@katiecouric My heart goes out 2 Matthew Badger. Can’t imagine having my children taken away from me. He has such courage & strength.
— Nancy E. Del Vecchio (@Nance_E) January 22, 2013
Today, Matthew is continuing to celebrate the lives of his three daughters with the LilySarahGraceFund, a fund he started in their honor to help underprivileged children around the country.
“Lily…She had a natural ability to be an actress.” -Matthew Badger
@katieshow The strength of these families, simply amazes me! The loss of his three girls, the families in Newtown & so many others!
— Marivel Colon (@Delia716) January 22, 2013
Like Matthew Badger, Judy Shepard knows a great deal about loss and moving forward. Her son Matthew’s death in Laramie, Wyoming made the words “Laramie” and “hate crime” part of the national conversation, and it all began with a savage attack nearly 15 years ago.
“We felt like we owed it to Matt to try to use this situation to open people’s eyes.” -Judy Shepard
@katieshow it brings tears to hear Judy Shepherd speak about her son Matthew. So thankful for the gay rights that we have now
— jessicar. (@jsweet83) January 22, 2013
Matthew Shepard’s brutal murder in 1998 ignited a national debate about the definition of hate crimes. Sheriff Dave O’Malley, a self-proclaimed homophobe, was a police officer assigned to work on Matthew’s case. How did that affect the investigation and what does he have to say today?
“We didn’t buy into the hate crime thing.” -Dave O’Malley
@katieshow My heart goes out to Mrs. Shepard. Never understood how folks feel they have right 2 put hands on someone because their different
— Undercover Mother (@UndrcvrMother) January 22, 2013
Judy Shepard took her campaign for hate crime legislation all the way to the White House. She is continuing to fight for gay rights today and, with the support of President Obama, she has been successful in passing legislation.
“Unless hate crimes are actually reported, we don’t know how prevalent they really are.” -Judy Shepard
— eric cote (@Eccote73) January 22, 2013
New York City-based Moises Kaufman and Leigh Fondakowski visited Laramie, Wyoming in the weeks following Matthew Shepard’s death, and wrote a play called, “The Laramie Project” that also became a film for HBO.
“It became a watershed historical moment in our culture.” -Moises Kaufman
— Gary Garrett (@garypgarrett) January 22, 2013