Student gives hope and healing to Sandy Hook victims - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Student gives hope and healing to Sandy Hook victims


An eastern Iowa high school student traded tragedy to give hope to the Sandy Hook families on the 1-year anniversary of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

After the tragedy, Kylie DeWees, 17, a senior at Cedar Rapids Xavier High School, said she knew she had to do something for the victims' families.

So she decided she was going to start playing the piano.

Having no prior knowledge of the piano or music at all, DeWees wanted to convey an emotion for those dealing with the tragedy in Connecticut. 

"Until you walk in the shoes of those, you will never know what they're going through," said Kylie's mother, Lisa DeWees.

DeWees wanted to take a step and walk in those shoes, so she began writing piano music.

She says it seemed like timing was perfect. Just two days before Sandy Hook, her family reclaimed her grandmother's piano, and didn't know what to do with it. 

"I think I use piano now as like therapy for me," said DeWees. "To just get away from all the fear and sadness from Sandy Hook, trying to use it and turn it into a positive thing."

She's now composed an album with 9 of her piano-composed songs, and went to Connecticut to play in an informal memorial for the families affected and to pass out hundreds of copies of her CDs.

"We certainly felt empathy, and I think that's probably the key word," said Tom Keating, Xavier High School principal. "That's Kylie's nature, she's empathetic, she feels for those who struggle."

DeWees says the sadness there in Newtown hits home, because they're student too.

"You kind of internalize and start thinking what if it happens at our school," says DeWees. "A lot of people are scared to try new things, I never thought I'd be playing piano today, but I just went for it."
DeWees' mother Lisa says she's glad her normally athletic daughter went for it, to help turn tragedy into triumph. 

"She's basically has taken a talent that she never realized that she had, and I told Kylie that is a God-given talent," said DeWees. "If you just take that God-given talent and share that with others, the world would be a much better place."

20 children and 6 educators died in the shooting rampage December 14, 2012, when a gunman killed his mother before going to the school and eventually killing himself.

The tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut is among the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.

"Anytime a student undertakes an initiative like this, which reaches out to to another community in compassion is a great reflection upon the school, but more importantly it's a great reflection on Kylie and the great person that she is," said Keating.

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