‘Go be with your family’: Strangers buy Florida teen $700 flight home after Parkland shooting

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Jordana Judson lost her closest family friend, Meadow Pollack, in the Parkland, Florida, school shooting. As Jordana raced to get home to Florida from New York City, she encountered two strangers who went into their own pockets to help Judson make it home.

“I first gained word of the shooting moments after it happened as it rapidly spread across Twitter. The Pollack family has always been like a second family to us after our father passed away when we were young. Meadow’s father took my brother in as one of his own, taking him on a number of fishing and camping trips over the years and teaching him to drive.

Jordana Judson

I am from Coral Springs, Florida, the neighboring city to Parkland, living right on the border and walking distance to the school. I went to Parkland schools and played Parkland sports my whole life. I am also a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas and had some of my favorite classes in that building, so this had already hit close to home for me enough. I started to pack a suitcase but couldn’t even think of what to bring, so I stopped.

Jordana Judson

I was distraught and in shock, grieving for the family and thinking of my own. I researched flights and JetBlue was the only one available  priced around $700 to $999 one-way. Walking up to the curb I spotted two-armed state troopers who asked if I was okay. I briefly explained the situation and that I needed to get on an immediate flight.

New York State Police

They pointed me in the direction of the ticket counter entrance and did not follow me inside. I later learned their names: Trooper Troy and Trooper Karasinski. I spoke with a JetBlue agent who offered me a non-negotiable, one way ticket totaling $700. With a widowed parent and living in New York City, $700 was not only an exorbitant price I could not afford, but one I was just not willing to pay, especially for a one-way ticket.

New York State Police

After about ten minutes, I look up and the state troopers are standing beside me. They must have come in to check in on me. Trooper Karasinski asked where I work, most likely not just to get to know me, but to keep me distracted as I was still in tears and barely able to speak. While on the phone with my mother discussing the price, I look up and the troopers, without hesitation, are opening their wallets and handing over their credit cards. I’m pleading, ‘You don’t have to do this. This is too much. Please don’t do this.’

Jordana Judson

All they said was, ‘It’s already done. Go be with your family.’ I will never forget the troopers’ names, their faces or this act of selflessness. I will pay it forward in any way that I can in honor of Meadow and the 16 other lives taken too soon, in honor of Trooper Troy and Trooper Karasinski who stood by my side as I was alone on one of the worst days of my life, and in honor of my fellow MSD students who are working diligently, day in, day out, to make a difference in our community and the world. This story and this tragic act has shaped who I am and who I want to be in the future and that is both a leader and an advocate for change.”

Father of daughter killed in Florida shooting delivers passionate speech

"We're here because my daughter has no voice. She was murdered last week and she was taken from us, shot 9 times on the third floor. We as a country failed our children. This shouldn't happen."- Andrew Pollack, father of Meadow Pollack, who was killed in Florida school shooting last week. http://abcn.ws/2sJgUKO

Posted by ABC News on Wednesday, February 21, 2018

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jordana Judson of New York City. Submit your story here

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