The events will mark 10 years since the filming of the Aurora Theater
DENVER – The 7/20 Memorial Foundation organizes a series of events – themed ‘metamorphosis’ – to mark 10 years since 12 people were killed and 70 others injured in a shooting at the Century 16 Theater in Aurora on July 20, 2012.
The annual midnight vigil at the Aurora Water Garden outside the Civic Center will begin at 11:59 p.m. on July 19 with a candlelight vigil. The garden area and the White Cross Memorial will open from 8 p.m. on July 19 and will remain open until 5 p.m. on July 24. The foundation will broadcast the program on its website and Facebook page.
The next events will take place on Saturday, July 23 in a one-day program the foundation is calling “Metamorphosis Aurora Theater Shooting 10 Years Later.”
“This one-day community event is designed to honor the lives lost and forever changed by the tragedy of the events of July 20, 2012, while celebrating community and the strength of Aurora. It is a day of healing and sharing,” the foundation said in describing the program.
The day will begin with a Heroes Run 5K starting at 9 a.m. with proceeds going to an athletic scholarship for an Aurora Public Schools student. It’s hosted by Zack Golditch, a Gateway High School graduate who attended CSU and played in the NFL. He survived the theater shooting and is now a South Metro firefighter.
People can Click here to register for the 5 km race.
The Reflection Ceremony will begin at 1:30 p.m., hosted by Becky Hogan. The names of the victims will be read and the Aurora Singers and Sister Felicia Burton will perform in honor of the first responders.
Other speakers include acting Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates, who was chief at the time of the shooting, former city manager Skip Noe, U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper, Theresa Hoover, the mother of AJ Boik, and Joshua Nowlan, who was injured in the filming.
Relatives of Aurora Theater shooting victim visit communities affected by tragedy
The community event will begin at 3 p.m., with a wellness booth, lawn games, children’s activities and a beer garden from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. that will feature 25 local breweries. The event will be free, but wristbands for the beer garden will be $40 in advance and $45 at the event. Donations will go towards the upkeep of the commemorative sculpture and the foundation.
There will also be food trucks at the event, and over 25 chalk artists will be drawing in the memorial garden throughout the afternoon. People will be able to record their memories in a memory tent that will be on site. Two groups – Brushfire and Latin Sol – between 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
An immersive 40-minute audio/visual event called Metamorphosis will begin at 7:20 p.m., designed by Renee Leon, and featuring music by the Stratus Chamber Orchestra and dancers from LifeArt, a spoken word piece by Poet Laureate Aurora Assetou Xango, and a video to accompany music and speech.
“This piece navigates the horror of the night of filming, through the ups and downs of the past 10 years, and ends with hope for a more peaceful and loving future,” the foundation said.
People can also donate to the foundation by by clicking here.
Here are the lives lost that we continue to remember today:
AJ (Alexander) Boik. AJ had just graduated from Gateway High School where he played baseball, a family friend said. Boik had planned to attend Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in the fall. His dream was to become an art teacher and open his own studio, his family said.
Jonathan Blunk. The father-of-two completed three tours of the Persian Gulf and the North Arabian Sea between 2004 and 2009, close friend James Gill of Brighton, Colorado, told The Associated Press. He had high hopes for his future, with plans to re-enlist in the Navy and the goal of becoming a Navy SEAL. He died in the shooting after pushing his girlfriend Jansen Young under the theater seat, saving her life.
Jesse Childress, 29, was a staff sergeant at Buckley Air Force Base and worked as a cyber systems operator. Friends said he spent most days of the week playing sports — softball on Mondays, bowling on Tuesdays, the Denver Post reported. Childress loved comic books and superhero movies. He had recently purchased a black Scion – a car he dubbed the “Batmobile”.
Gordon Cowden loved life and his family. He went to the movie premiere at midnight with his two teenagers. The father-of-four lived in Aurora but was described as a “true Texas gentleman” in a family statement. He loved the outdoors and owned his own business. The Cowden teenagers escaped the shooting unscathed.
John Larimer was a Navy sailor based at Buckley Air Force Base, where he served as a cryptologic technician – a job the Navy says on its website should be done by someone with “exceptionally good character, Above average writing and speaking skills, a good memory, curiosity and resourcefulness.” Those who knew him described him in similar terms.
Micayla Medek, 23, was saving money for a trip to India. She worked at Subway and attended Aurora Community College. Her father, Greg Medek, told the Los Angeles Times that Micayla loves Hello Kitty, hot pink and Beanie Babies. At her funeral, mourners wore pink ribbons, some with Hello Kitty faces on them, in honor of her penchant for color and character.
Matt McQuinn died trying to protect his girlfriend. When the shooter opened fire, McQuinn dove on Samantha Yowler. McQuinn’s stepfather, David Jackson, told the Dayton Daily News that McQuinn was a hero. Yowler suffered a leg injury, a family spokesperson said. McQuinn, a 27-year-old Ohio native, had moved to Colorado a few months earlier.
Jessica Ghawi was a journalist and blogger who also went by the name Jessica Redfield. Ghawi had recently moved to Denver from San Antonio, Texas to pursue her dream of becoming a sportscaster. “She had a huge heart,” said Ghawi’s mother, Sandy Phillips. “Cared deeply about others.” A few months earlier, Ghawi was visiting Toronto with her boyfriend, an underage hockey player, when they narrowly escaped a fatal shooting in the main downtown shopping mall.
Veronica Moser Sullivan, 6, went to see the Batman movie with her mother, Ashley Moser, 25. Veronica died of her injuries. Ashley was left in critical condition, with gunshot wounds to her neck and abdomen. She was paralyzed below the waist. “(Veronica was) a dynamic little girl…just bragging about learning to swim on Tuesday,” said Annie Dalton, Ashley’s aunt.
Alex Sullivan was at the midnight screening of the new Batman movie as part of his birthday celebration. “#TheDarkKnightRises OMG COUNTING until it starts I can’t wait to be the best birthday ever,” Sullivan wrote on Facebook. His family called him “their real-life superhero. Alex was smart, funny, and most importantly, much loved by his friends and family,” the family statement read.
Alex Teves, 24, was originally from Arizona but lived in the Denver area after graduating from the University of Denver. Teves’ father, Tom Teves, told ABC News his son shielded his girlfriend from a bullet when he himself was shot and killed. Her dad said Alex would do anything to save his girlfriend.
Rebecca Ann Wingo, 32, was a devoted mother, who always sat in the front row at church. Shannon Dominguez, who worked with Wingo on weekends, said she was friendly with everyone and always seemed to be in a good mood. “She had a really bubbly personality,” Dominguez said. “She was a pretty happy person. She never really seemed… like with work, she never got upset. She was pretty happy to be here.”
The shooter is serving life in prison.