This year has certainly been wild for the entire world. With the COVID-19 pandemic, our everyday lives have been compromised. We read negative news stories, one after another. You almost have to prepare yourself to step into the social media world. Yet while the year 2020 doesn’t appear to see a return to the state of normalcy, we are quick to forget that some people never really knew what normal was.
Yet a little over two years ago, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida was devastated by a school shooting that left 17 high school students dead. The event, one of so many, prompted the demonstration March for Our Lives in Washington D.C. The Parkland community slowly started putting back the pieces. Fast forward to today and COVID-19 is yet another obstacle that students – children are faced with. The Parkland community, realizing that a Prom, Senior Ditch Day, Graduation would no longer happen, came together in support of these students. So most of the high schoolers in that small community may have no idea what a sense of normalcy is.
Sara Ochoa is the co-captain on the varsity wrestling team at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. A female co-captain on the boys’ wrestling team. She has competed in the state, national and international level. She placed 2nd in the Florida Girls’ state tournament this year. Her 8-second pin was the fastest pin in the tournament. Ochoa is also part of the Junior ROTC.
Titan FC COO Lex McMahon is a member of the Parkland community. He and his family saw an opportunity to reach out to these students and help in any small way they could. Since the mass shooting, McMahon and his family have supported the high school wrestling team.
“We supported them, we gave scholarships out to last year’s captain,” McMahon said.
“This year, one of the captain’s is a girl by the name of Sara Ochoa … she’s the only female wrestler on the team that has competed against guys for much of her career. She has competed on the national level and internationally. She’s an absolute stud and she’s part of ROTC and is going to college here in the fall. and is going to be part of ROTC and continue to be an athlete. … I bring her up as part of this idea of service and community,” he continued.
Due to COVID-19, the seniors had to miss Prom. They may not get a proper high school graduation. The Parkland community refused to let the members of this graduating class go unnoticed.
“Amy Friedheim Moret started ‘Adopt-a-Senior Coral Springs and Parkland‘ on Facebook,” McMahon stated.
“And my wife brought it to my attention … Man it’s gotta be one of the wrestlers. And I think it’s probably going to be Sara … So every week from now until she goes off to college, Sara’s going to be getting something from us,” he continued.
While Ochoa may never know a normal high school experience, McMahon and his family will certainly make her transition to the next phase of her life memorable. It is the epitome of community and faith.
“I’ve got things planned to get some great training in, as a surprise. I’ve got things planned with her to do some military style training. She’s a girl, so my mom designs high fashion clothes for Neiman Marcus and Sachs 5th Avenue. So we are doing our little bit to support Sara. To me, that’s success. When you can help other people feel better about their situation, if that doesn’t put a smile on your face and validate who you are as a human being, nothing will, man. Nothing will.”
Ochoa was accepted to the Florida Argicultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee, FL. where she plans to study criminology.