Gymnastics, architecture...In high school, she had a couple boyfriends who had issues, different issues, and she not only did not let them drag her down, but today they are thoroughly admirable men, both military, doing what they love and being who they want to be, and they each attribute it in some measure to Amber's influence, her strength, honesty and insight.
When she wanted to get into competitive gymnastics, I told her it was a commitment of time, energy and money- we would support her but gymnastics would be in lieu of an allowance, and she made that choice and continued to stand by it right through 11th grade. The gym taught her not just grace and strength, but teamwork, time management and budgeting skills that stood her in good stead in college. Architecture is probably one of the most grueling curriculum's there is, but she loved it, and she wanted to know it all and then some, so she could not just do it but do it well.
The formation of this scholarship was started even before I suggested it, by her thesis professor and classmates- the people who knew best her dedication and inspiration, vision and determination to make the world a better place through architecture. It is comforting to me to know that each of them carries a piece of her forward, inspiring them. Philadelphia University kept her thesis boards, and refers students to them as a standard for excellence. Her art hangs in the President's office and the architecture building.
Recently, Handbags 4 Peace held their first free self defense session in Philadelphia and I participated, of course. At the end, Senator Anthony Williams thanked me for coming out to support them, and I said,
"It's the only thing I can do. You do what you have to."
He disagreed, citing how many relatives of victims withdraw into their grief.
But he didn't know Amber.
She would no more crumple up in grief than she would let someone waltz up and take what what hers without a fight. If it had been me on the pavement that night, she would do what I am doing, fighting to keep this story alive until justice comes, fighting to bring any possible good out of tragedy, and to create some kind of legacy.
I champion the Handbags 4 Peace self defense initiative not because I fear for myself, but to keep someone elses daughter from becoming a statistic.
Amber was smart, she was strong- if she had ever had any instruction in self defense, she might not be dead.
Shout it from the rooftops, "WHY DO WE NOT TEACH OUR CHILDREN TO DEFEND THEMSELVES?" It should be the subject of assemblies in the high schools- basic What to Do When. Surely local self defense instructors would jump at the chance to do it for free, just for the exposure to all those potential clients... It's a dog eat dog world- teach the kittens to use their claws.
If I can start something in her name that makes the world a better place, that saves other people's children, I will know I have lived up to her.