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Columbine 25 years later: Lauren Townsend's family puts focus on positive changes made in Colorado

Columbine 25 years later: Lauren Townsend's family focuses on positive changes
Columbine 25 years later: Lauren Townsend's family focuses on positive changes 02:39

April 20 will mark 25 years since the tragedy at Columbine High School. Twelve students and a teacher were killed, and countless others were injured when two gunmen opened fire.

Families of those who were lost shared say on this day of remembrance they want to focus on the positive changes that have been made since that horrific day. The parents of Lauren Townsend are among those working to change the narrative.

Lauren Townsend's mother Dawn Anna and her stepfather Bruce Beck talk to CBS News Colorado's Karen Morfitt.  CBS

"It really started at the 5-year remembrance when I had just had this, 'I don't think I can handle the 13 being remembered anymore for the way they died, we have to do something, there's so much more to them,'" Dawn Anna Townsend said.

Every year since Dawn Anna, Lauren's mother, and her stepfather Bruce Beck, advocate for that change

"We don't focus on April 20, we focus on what has happened since April 20 and the difference that these lives have made across the country or around the world," Beck said.

In Colorado, that started with their push for an official proclamation from the governor that April 20 be a "Day of Service."

"We were given a lot on that day, we had a lot taken from us, but we had a lot given to us as well in the form of lots of open hearts and a lot of love and a lot of understanding. That's what we are trying to give back on that day," Dawn Anna said.

Lauren's father Rick Townsend points to his daughter's diary as a reflection of her kindness and his inspiration to give back.

April 20 is a Day of Service in Colorado. CBS

"She said in the end all there is love to sum it all up, it's like she could see something coming. I don't know what that was, but it was certainly very impactful," Rick Townsend said.

He's helped grow the "Never Forgotten Fund" that was formed shortly after the shooting, providing 12 scholarships to students and one to a teacher. To date $1.5 million has been awarded.

"It all got started way back then and it's gone on since then and it's going to go on for as long as, for probably a lot longer than I'm going to be going through applicants," he said.

Together, the Townsends have found their joy in supporting Lauren's passion for animals with the Lauren Townsend Wildlife Fund.

"It's reached into, not Africa, it reached across the nation. A lot of them are mom-and-pop organizations that these people have been giving their retirement funds to support animals so we are trying to help them," Dawn Anna said.

Lauren Townsend  Columbine High School

Work that has also helped the family to move forward.

"You find out that when you give your heart is healed," she added.

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