Four Parkland, Florida, teens journeyed to Freeport Tuesday to honor the life of Dix Hills-raised teacher Scott J. Beigel and help raise money for a charity in his name.
Emma Gonzalez, Cameron Kasky and twins Michael and Caspen Becher were among the dozens who attended a fundraiser in honor of the 35-year-old geography teacher who died protecting students.
The Becher family drove up from Florida to pay homage to Beigel, who meant a lot to his first period geography student Michael Becher, 15. The family hopes the memorial will help Michael with “healing and closure,” said his mom, Casey Becher.
“He’s had a very hard time,” Casey Becher said. “It’s been four months [since the shooting]. He’s been coping.”
Beigel was one of 17 people killed in the Feb. 14 shooting by suspected gunman Nikolas Cruz at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The teacher was shot with an AR-15 while turning to lock his classroom door after ushering students inside for safety.
The fundraiser at Tropix on the Mile kept a casual vibe, with participants playing blackjack, getting caricatures drawn and listening to tropical music along the canal. The event was intended both to raise money for the Scott J. Beigel Memorial Fund, which aims to send underprivileged kids to camp, and to keep awareness on the push for gun control, attendees said.
Mark Peters of Brookville said the charity is a wonderful way to memorialize his nephew, who attended Camp Starlight in Pennsylvania for 28 years, and “it was the most joy he got in life.” He said he was honored that Stoneman Douglas students attended and called their anti-gun violence movement “tremendous.”
“It’s really sad my generation left this gun problem in the hands of this generation,” Peters said. “It’s a tragedy we did that. It’s their Vietnam now.”
Gonzalez, 18, had to travel with her own security, said Michael Schulman, Beigel’s father. Freeport police patrolled outside the event.
The teenagers “have to worry about security. Think of what that means,” Schulman said.
Gonzalez said she was “here to support his family,” and declined to comment further, citing that she did not know Beigel.
Linda Beigel Schulman, Beigel’s mother, said the event was “more than we can ever imagine.”
“It means that my son is going in everybody’s hearts forever,” she said.