An 11-year-old boy from El Paso responded to the recent shooting on Aug. 3 by starting the “El Paso Challenge,” with the help of his mother. The goal of the social media campaign is to encourage people to give back and spread kindness, in order to bring about healing.
Rose Gandarilla posted a photo of her son, Ruben, on Twitter, and a picture of his plan for the El Paso Challenge. The goal: honor the people killed in their city. The idea: challenge each person in El Paso to do 20 good deeds.
Ruben jotted down a few examples such as mowing someone’s lawn, visiting a nursing home, paying for someone’s lunch or dinner, taking flowers to the hospital, or simply telling someone how great they are.
“How to convince everyone to join the El Paso challenge: Hold up posters, pass out flyers, send it to Facebook,” Ruben’s note read, as reported by CBS News. “This will show the world people from El Paso are kind and care for each other.”
Ruben’s idea was successful: In about a day, more than 1,400 people were talking about the El Paso Challenge via Twitter. Almost 3,000 people shared his mom’s Facebook post.
Ruben Gandarilla’s challenge. Photo from Rose Gandarilla’s Facebook page.
Many people on social media, from Texas and other areas, started pledging 20 random acts of kindness with the El Paso Challenge hashtag.
Ruben didn’t just challenge strangers on social media—he also shared his idea in person. When he was in Taco Bell with his mother, he came up to a group of people and explained the challenge.
“This courageous young man came up to us at Taco Bell and challenged us to make El Paso a better place, the challenge is to do 20 good deeds in memory of the 20 who were killed in the Walmart shooting,” El Paso native Chris Castaneda wrote on Facebook, sharing a photo of his group with Ruben. “I challenge you to fulfill this challenge and share this on your page to challenge others.”
Some on social media who took up the challenge decided to pledge 22 acts of kindness – one for each victim of the shooting that happened in an El Paso Walmart.
Prosecutors are initiating a civil rights hate crime investigation and domestic terrorism charges. They will seek the death penalty for the suspect.
Read the CBS News story here.
Army Pfc. Glendon Oakley was shopping for a jersey Aug. 3 at a store in El Paso, Texas, when a child entered and said there was a shooter at the Walmart close by.
Oakley told CNN no one in the store, including him, paid attention because they didn’t understand what the child was talking about. Oakley said he then walked to another store.
Then the trouble started.
“I just heard two gunshots and a whole bunch of people started running around and screaming,” Oakley said.
As disorder reigned during the next five to seven minutes, the armed Oakley was going to go with others who ran out of the store toward the gunshots.
“But I see a whole bunch of kids running around without their parents. Only thing I think of is pick up as many kids I can as possible,” Oakley said.
He and a different man started gathering children together. There were about 13, Oakley said, but he could only hold three.
“I was just focused on the kids, I wasn’t really worried about myself. So just put my head down and just ran as fast as I could,” he said. “They were anxious, when they were in my arms, they were trying to jump out of my arms but trying to keep them as tight as possible. They are kids, so they don’t understand what is going on.”
When he saw the police, he said he let the kids go and took out his phone “in case they were going to shoot me and started recorded while I was running.”
Oakley said he wasn’t concerned with his safety, rather getting the children out of harm’s way.
“I was just thinking about if I had a child and I wasn’t around, how I would want another man to react if they saw my child running around,” Oakley said.
Oakley told CNN affiliate KFOX that he did what he was supposed to do, and he doesn’t want the limelight on him.
“I understand it was heroic, and I’m looked at as a hero for it, but that wasn’t the reason for me …,” he said as he broke down in tears Aug. 4. “I’m just focused on the kids I could not get and the families that were lost. It hurts me, like, they were part of me. I don’t even know the people that died or the kids that I took with me … I want to reach out to the families that were lost and the families that lost their children because the focus should not be on me.”
CNN tried to contact the soldier on Aug. 4.
Oakley said the media’s focus should be on the world and the shooting in Ohio.
“The spotlight should not be on me right now,” he said. “I need the media to go out to the families and make sure they’re OK … I understand what I did was heroic, but I did that because that’s what I was trained to do and that’s what the military has taught me to do.”
The El Paso shooting left 20 people dead and 26 wounded, according to CNN.
Read about Oakley here.