Daddy’s Little Girl and the Wind Beneath Her Wings

Daddy’s Little Girl and the Wind Beneath Her Wings

“You’re the end of the rainbow, my pot of gold,

You’re daddy’s little girl to have and to hold…

” Daddy’s Little Girl”  Lyrics by  Al Martino

Last week we went to the USC Viterbi School of Engineering Awards Dinner. My friend Stayce Harris was honored.   It was on the wings of love and admiration for her that I somehow was able to muster the courage to attend. You see, this event was my re-emergence so to speak; I came out of my cocoon.

It has been over 4 years since I attended anything related to USC even though I am a Trojan for life. My husband Darrell became a Trojan by marriage and oh, my beloved son Justin had dreams of joining the USC student body through his legacy— but really from his own innate talents. As a family, we attended countless USC events through the years.   But when life threw us a curveball I had to protect myself from those broken dreams we had for Justin.

Justin, Susan & Darrell Carr at USC Homecoming 2004

It was a glorious night. This event was wonderful. It was welcoming and safe. A wave of nostalgia swept over me as the USC band played and as I watched my friend LIEUTENANT GENERAL STAYCE D. HARRIS —the first black woman to become an Air Force Lieutenant General, receive the Distinguished Alumni Award. Over 500 people came to “her party” as she said during her acceptance speech.




Stayce and I were classmates in a few general engineering courses on the Monday –Wednesday-Friday track back in the day. We became fast friends. On one particular Thursday, I had to take a second look when I spotted her quickly racing across campus donning a crisp and orderly Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) uniform. I caught up with her and called out her name. She turned around. To my surprise, it was Stayce! I did not know she was in the ROTC. Together in sync, we both busted up laughing and I said: “ OMG is this you? She smiled and said proudly, “ Yes, it is!” I said: “I’m not mad at you. Right on girl! I am still honored to be your friend. “ Fight On!!


You see, on our usual college days, Stayce was dressed like the rest of us, civilian students. We frequently attended social and sporting events on campus. She wore jeans, sweatshirts, bell-bottom pants, leggings, mini skirts, and boots. She even had her fashionable ” Farrah Fawcett hair style too!

Pam , Cynthia and Stayce  at USC Homecoming


USC Rally in San Francisco before the USC vs. Cal Game    (Stayce, Susan,  Susan’s little sister Jeni , Sandra and Sharon)


Stayce was an all-inclusive student. She was involved in all aspects of student life. She also pledged the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. At our campus parties, she often was spotted on the dance floor. Yes, we danced at parties back in the day. She was also quite the dancer— and just as good as the Soul Train Dancers. She effortlessly was able to do the various dances i.e. the worm, the point, or the cowboy!! She was always in the mix with the crowd. Stayce was unassuming. She was a mentor and friend to all.

Image by Colourbox

As women in the engineering department, we were rare commodities. A woman in the ROTC was a surprising yet beautiful sight to see. She was committed from an early age. She was “Daddy’s girl”… She said:

“I was born in Los Angeles. My father was career enlisted in the Air Force, so I grew up as a military brat. Basically, I’ve been serving ever since I was born. In my mind, all I wanted to do is grow up to be just like him. When I was 8 years old, I’d watch my dad go to work every day in a light blue shirt and dark blue pants, but I didn’t have a clue about his actual job in the Air Force. All I knew is that every two years, we’d move to another exotic location. And that’s what I enjoyed — the ability to travel the world. It wasn’t until I entered high school and started taking Junior ROTC that I knew I had the propensity to serve and wanted to be an airman.”

Fast forward. We graduated and remained in contact. Following are a few of her humble accomplishments. She has always been passionate about her goals and mission in life. She kept her eyes on the prize.

She did the following without fanfare or accolades:

  • B.S. Industrial Engineering USC
  • Masters of Aviation Management
  • Flew C-141 Cargo planes
  • United Airlines Pilot
  • Wing Commander
  • Major General US Air Force
  • Lieutenant General US Air Force
  • Friend and Mentor to Many


As she graced the stage during her acceptance speech, she compared her love for her two families – USC and the US Air Force. She paid homage to her #1 role model her father. She also committed and dedicated her excellence in service to the Tuskegee Airmen (the first black servicemen to serve as military aviators in the U.S. armed forces, flying with distinction during World War II.) A group of Tuskegee Airmen also came to celebrate Stayce. They too got a standing ovation. The remaining few are now in their 80’s and 90’s. It was another honor to be in their presence.

Tuskeegee Airmen Image by

“The Tuskegee airmen were the first black servicemen to serve as military aviators in the U.S. armed forces, flying with distinction during World War II. Though subject to racial discrimination both at home and abroad, the 996 pilots and more than 15,000 ground personnel who served with the all-black units would be credited with some 15,500 combat sorties and earn over 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses for their achievements. The highly publicized successes of the Tuskegee Airmen helped pave the way for the eventual integration of the U.S. armed forces under President Harry Truman in 1948. (”

Stayce with two Tuskeegee Airmen and  USC Classmate Lloyd Mckinney
Tuskeegee Airmen April 19, 2017

When Stacey’s Dad passed away the Tuskegee Airmen came to her rescue. They adopted her as their daughter. They told her: “ It’s ok Baby. We are your Daddies now…”

Hearing this gave me chills…

“Daddy’s girl, Daddy’s girl.

I’m the center, of Daddy’s world.

I know I’m Daddy’s number one,

For he loves me like I was his son.

Daddy’s girl.”


****So please watch this short 3-minute video of Stacey as we honor all of her goodness. See who has a cameo in it…


Watch Lt. Gen Harris Acceptance Speech at the USC Viterbi 2017 Awards


Trojan’s military career took flight from the start

Justin loved Stayce. Every time she would visit she responded to him. She was patient with his endless questions. She also was genuinely interested in the things he liked to do. He took pride in showing her is artwork and his design projects. Whenever we would fly on United Airlines he would ask the stewardess: “ Who is the pilot? Is Ms. Stacey flying the plane? He was so proud of her. It was a blessing that we all got to witness her pinning by the Tuskegee Airmen in 2009.

2009 Las Vegas 2 Star Pinning Ceremony with the Tuskeegee Airman
Susan, Stayce & Darrell 2017

“The best piece of advice Harris remembers came from ABC anchor Robin Roberts.

“I always tell people to find your passion and follow your passion with all of your drives and abandon, but most importantly, realize that God’s delays are not his denials. I went to a Black Enterprise women’s summit one year and [Robin Roberts] was the speaker. When she said that, it just resonated with me so well and I have used it in almost every single speech that I’ve given ever since,” Harris said. “I always try to give her credit for it, but it really means that in pursuing your goals, there may be stumbling blocks. I call it turbulence because I’m a pilot. There’s turbulence out there, but those stumbling blocks, in my opinion, really serve as building blocks to get you where you want to go. So don’t be deterred if there are delays in you achieving your goal. I think you become stronger for it.”

“Did you ever know that you’re my hero,

And everything I would like to be?

I can fly higher than an eagle,

For you are the wind beneath my wings…” Bette Midler

Well, all of this is confirmation of how one can have an extended family. I met most of my cherished friends today at USC. They came to the rescue when we needed them the most 4 years ago. My CIA agents (my best girls) all got their training through our forged friendships developed at USC.


Stayce and her USC gal pals


I have learned how sharing my life stories as I have emerged from this cocoon are the driving forces behind whom I have already started to become during this difficult journey from my chrysalis—a catalyst moving me toward finding my voice, and my wings, once again.

Justin, my butterfly,  is now the wind beneath my wings.


Congratulations LIEUTENANT GENERAL STAYCE D. HARRIS   You are our “Shero”. You can fly higher than an eagle with your Daddy as your constant wind beneath your wings.


Stayce my USC sister, keep flying high!!  I will try too!

Fight On!

P.S. William Wang another USC Alumnus was also honored that night. He was an immigrant student from China.  He attended USC as an Electrical Engineering student. He got his firs F grade ever in life in his EE 105 class. He did not know how to break the news to his mother.  He told her the F stood for FIGHT ON!! He said he failed the class 3 times, had a 2.4 GPA and he later launched VIZIO HDTV’s. As he mentioned you can get one at a Costco near you!!!

Justin building a House for Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans 2012

A Sign of the Times

A Sign of the Times

An email popped up on my phone this past midnight. I was just getting ready to shut my eyes. It was from my brother Martel aka Marty. Today is his birthday and also the birthday of my nephew Burl III. I quickly read the heading on the email:

Phelan Hall to Be Renamed to Burl Toler Hall” April 7, 2017
Then I read the first sentence: “A group of students uses  performing arts to promote social justice.” My heart skipped a beat. I thought of Justin, I thought of my Dad. What a posthumous honor to bestow on my Dad and our family.

Read the full story here:


Phelan Hall To Be Renamed to Burl Toler Hall

How profound that it was unveiled in a performing arts manner befitting of something Justin, an honorable thespian in his own right and agent for social justice, would probably want to do. Justin loved visual and performing arts and he wanted world peace. Thankful Justin was able to follow all of his passions!!


Papa at Justin’s first performance

Justin and his Papa
Justin’s debut as the Wolf in the Three Piggy Opera 1st Grade

    Justin doing his many things with a passion!

Such a blessing that my Dad was able to see Justin act in his debut play in 1st play as the big bad wolf.

Justin was just like my Dad in so many ways.  He spoke about his Grandpa in 2012.  Justin passed away suddenly from an undiagnosed heart condition while swimming on 2/22/13.  He was 16 years old…

I called my brother, I said: “Marty this is a crazy story!  I am so honored that a building will be renamed on the University of San Francisco (USF) campus from Phelan Hall to Burl Toler Hall. I told Marty I needed to read the rest of the story and I wished him a happy birthday.
As mentioned above, the original name of the building was Phelan Hall. It was named after a man James Phelan who was a US Senator, and San Francisco Mayor from 1897 to 1902.  He also had a disturbing vision of “ being against Japanese and Chinese immigrants”. He also ran his reelection campaign on the slogan “Keep California White.”  The students and USF community thought it was time to make a change and to be more reflective of an inclusive university.

Juxtaposed to his aforementioned man, I am proudly stating that my Dad was an upstanding man of character from start to finish. He came from humble beginnings and took advantage of the educational opportunities provided to him. He put family first. He stood his ground. He was inclusive. He helped and nurtured thousands of kids in the San Francisco Bay Area- that’s why there is a school named after him today. He did things right while not expecting any accolades. He was a lifelong mentor and “ community Dad”. One of his students in Junior High, Bill Yee, came to our house to deliver flowers shortly after my Dad died. He said: “ As a child of Chinese immigrants, he often got into altercations at school and had his lunch money taken and my Dad would give him $0.25 for his lunch money and my Dad never called his parents when he got in trouble.” Bill told me that he became a teacher because of my Dad.  Bill recently retired after over 25 years of service.

Burl Toler in Action at Ben Franklin Jr. High
Burl Toler notes on Giving Children a clear sense of direction 1971

Some of my Dad’s memorable quotes include:
• “Don’t let other people determine how you act.”
• “Do your best and your best will be good enough”
• “Do the right thing”
• “Children learn most of their first character lessons in the home”
• “If you can show me a man who has never made a mistake, I will show you a man who has never made a decision”
• “Treat people the way you want to be treated”

In print, his notable accomplishments have been:

• Member of the USF 1951 Dons Football and a College All-Star in Football
• Undergrad and Graduate degrees from USF
• In 1964 the NFL named him the first “Negro major league official in any professional sport
• First Negro ever named as a Junior High School Principal in San Francisco
• Police Commissioner in SF
• Benjamin Franklin Jr. High School renamed to “ The Burl Toler Campus” in 2006
• Cherished Husband of 40 years
• Father of 6
• Grandfather of 10

Burl Toler Campus Dedication 2006

USF/NFL Hall of Fame Gino Market, Ollie Matson, Bob Sinclair, w/ Burl Toler

There are change agents rising up for various matters all over campuses throughout the world today. The students want their voices heard. They want civil rights and opportunities. Who doesn’t for that matter? Arts are being stripped from curriculums along with after school programs that could change kids lives in the right direction. Elite schools and parents are redirecting students away from taking visual and performing arts classes because “ They just don’t’ give you the GPA boost needed to be competitive”. Public schools don’t even provide vocational or creative opportunities for their students. Budgets do not even cover such things. People don’t talk to each other. People don’t stop to help one another.  People do not listen. It is time to Stop to see what is going on. Look into the eyes of people you encounter.  Listen to what others have to say. Climates are changing.

It’s the sign of the times.

The Dedication will happen on my Dad’s Birthday, May 9, 2017


Twin Peaks San Francisco, Photo Credit: Darrell Carr

My Dad did his best and his best was sure good enough.

Honored to be your daughter Dad. You and Mom taught us all how to do the right thing.

My Dad would be proud. I am sure that Dad, Mom, and Justin are looking down beaming with pride…

What a gift! It’s the Sign of the Times.

Justin wanted world peace and so do I!!!

Created on UC Berkeley’s campus by Justin’s cousin Laureina and friends 2013

Happy Birthday, Martel, Burl III, and Dad.

College Roommate Walt Jourdan at Burl’s 80th bday party

Check out “THE ’51 DONS” from Darshan Kembhavi on Vimeo.




“Happy Birthday
By: Stevie Wonder

You know it doesn’t make much sense
There ought to be a law against
Anyone who takes offense
At a day in your celebration
‘Cause we all know in our minds
That there ought to be a time
That we can set aside
To show just how much we love you
And I’m sure you would agree
It couldn’t fit more perfectly
Than to have a world party on the day you came to be
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday
I just never understood
How a man who died for good
Could not have a day that would
Be set aside for his recognition
Because it should never be
Just because some cannot see
The dream as clear as he
That they should make it become an illusion
And we all know everything
That he stood for time will bring
For in peace our hearts will sing
Thanks to Martin Luther King
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday
Why has there never been a holiday
Where peace is celebrated
All throughout the world
The time is overdue
For people like me and you
Who know the way to truth
Is love and unity to all God’s children
It should never be a great event
And the whole day should be spent
In full remembrance
Of those who lived and died for the oneness of all people
So let us all begin
We know that love can win
Let it out don’t hold it in
Sing it loud as you can
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday
Happy birthday
Happy birthday
Happy birthday…
We know the key to unity all people
Is in the dream that you had so long ago (happy birthday)
That lives in all of the hearts of people (happy birthday)
That believe in unity (happy birthday)
We’ll make the dream become a reality (happy birthday)
I know we will (happy birthday)
Because our hearts tell us so (happy birthday)
Happy birthday
Happy birthday”

Ceeds of Peace:Something So Strong Inside

Something so strong inside…

I first got wind of this incredible song “ Something So Strong Inside…” after our Producer, Joanne Morris introduced me to Pastor Kelvin Sauls and his famous church Holman United Methodist Church (HUMC). We were seeking a venue to host our annual JCWWP event. Joanne poignantly set the stage and introduced Justin Carr. His story resonated so deeply with Pastor Sauls.

At the completion of the meeting, I asked Pastor Sauls if he wanted any young members in his community to participate in our program? He thought for a second. He said yes! He then pulled up this song on the internet: “ Something So Strong inside”. He said we could get students from the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School to sing the song. As we watched the video, the words and music silenced us and brought tears to our eyes. We are grateful of the bond that has now been formed between JCWWP and HUMC.

Alas, our event was named! “ The Ceeds of Peace: Something so strong inside.” It was held on February 25, 2017.


Kcal 9 News interview before the event:


Our guest speaker Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng is the Co-Founder of the Ceeds of Peace (COP) Organization. COP encourages everyone to teach children the Ceeds (Compassion, Courage, Collaboration, Community, Critical Thinking and Conflict Resolution). COP instills the importance of having a 360-degree approach to raising children and how imperative it is to include parents, teachers, children and the community in the process. Darrell and I are satisfied that we actually raised Justin with the “Ceeds”

You have to listen to this song:

and read the following powerful words:

Something So Strong Inside

The higher you build your barriers

The taller I become

The further you take my rights away

The faster I will run

You can deny me, you can decide

To turn your face away

No matter ’cause there’s


Something inside so strong

I know that I can make it

Though you’re doing me wrong, so wrong

You thought that my pride was gone, oh no

There’s something inside so strong

Oh oh-oh-oh-oh-oh, something inside so strong


The more you refuse to hear my voice (ooh-weh ooh-weh ooh-weh ooh-weh)

The louder I will sing

You hide behind walls of Jericho (ooh-weh ooh-weh ooh-weh ooh-weh)

Your lies will come tumbling

Deny my place in time, you squander wealth that’s mine

My light will shine so brightly it will blind you

Because there’s


Something inside so strong

I know that I can make it

Though you’re doing me wrong, so wrong

You thought that my pride was gone, oh no

There’s something inside so strong

Oh oh-oh-oh-oh-oh, something inside so strong


Brothers and sisters, when they insist we’re just not good enough

Well we know better, just look him in his eyes and say

We’re gonna do it anyway, we’re gonna do it anyway

We’re gonna do it anyway, we’re gonna do it anyway

Because there’s


Something inside so strong

I know that I can make it

Though you’re doing me wrong, so wrong

You thought that my pride was gone, oh no, oh no

There’s something inside so strong


Something inside so strong

I know that I can make it

Though you’re doing me wrong, so wrong

You thought that my pride was gone, oh no, oh no

There’s something inside so strong

Oh oh-oh-oh-oh-oh, something inside so strong

(Oh oh oh) oh oh-oh-oh-oh-oh, something inside so strong

Oh oh-oh-oh-oh, something inside so strong

Writer: LABI SIFFRE Copyright: Lyrics © Universal Music

CBS 2 News just aired a segment of their interview with Maya.

Pat Harvey and Producer Ray Bell got a chance to meet this wonderful peace builder.


Click on the link below to see the interviewed that aired today on CBS2 LA.

Maya graced our program with her words of intellectual and spiritual wisdom. She shared her thoughts on how to be peace builders. She said: “Justin was a transformative leader, she learned about grassroots community organizing from her brother and her mother taught them how to be intellectually and emotionally brave.”

Her book “ Ladder to the Moon” was inspired by the legacy of her own Mother, Ann Dunham. It is a magical tale that sings with the love that bonds a family together through generations. The artwork reminds us that loved ones lost are always with us and that sometimes we need only to look at the moon and remember.”

This is what Maya said about Justin’s Art:

Art is Eternal…It lasts forever!!

“Happy to See the Sun Come Up, Happy to See the Sun Go Down”

She also said that it is important to remember those who have passed. Their spirits linger and impact us greatly and move us.”

We will bravely remember Justin every day- it’s just something so strong inside…



Angie Daves Moving to the Beat of JCWWP





1). Sister station CBS2 did an Emmy-winning news story on Justin in 2013, when the Foundation was first established, this is also a follow-up to that piece on where they are 4 years later — now holding the benefit in a nearly 1,000 seat historic church with President Obama’s sister, Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng as the keynote speaker.

2). The Foundation was established in 2013 by Susan and Darrell Carr, when their only child and son, Justin, died from an undetected heart ailment, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), while in swim practice for his Harvard-Westlake Swim Team, and now supports at-risk/under-served youth in the arts & tutoring programs, and enrichment scholarships, as well as an HCM/heart awareness campaign.



February is Black History Month, and this one special benefit next Saturday connects 3 historic milestones:

1). It takes place at Holman United Methodist Church, only 1 of two churches in Los Angeles that Dr. Martin Luther King spoke at only weeks before his fateful trip to Memphis in 1968

2). Holman UMC is also the church home of civil rights legend, Rev. James Lawson, known as the architect of the non-violence protest training for the civil rights movement. Actor-activist, Jesse Williams, depicted him in the award-winning film The Butler.

3). The keynote speaker is peace advocate, Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng of the acclaimed Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, she is also the sister of 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner, and the 44th President of the U.S. Barack Obama, also the nation’s first Black president.


Because Justin died of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), another large part of the Foundation’s work is their awareness campaign for youth that may be suffering from HCM and isn’t aware.



“Just One Little Thing On this Day of Remembrance



During the aftermath of the unimaginable loss of losing our only child—Justin, a very dear friend Lynette, sent me a link to a story titled: How Grieving With Gratitude Changed Everything” from Maria Shriver’s blog: “Architecture of Change”. Reading it changed me… I quickly learned about Kelly Buckley and her movement: “ Just One Little Thing” (JOLT). I read about her unfathomable loss when her son Stephen died unexpectedly.   Despite this horrific loss, Kelly was still able to survive in the midst of misery. She found the lit candle in a room filled with darkness. Kelly has taught me (as I tuck away the pain everywhere I go, this companion and oxygen) how to “grieve with gratitude” and how to look for JOLT blessings every single day. For this, I am forever grateful.

“Just One Little Thing: Finding A Happy Life In An Imperfect World, One Moment At A Time”

The infinite trauma that Darrell and I  have endured has recently catapulted me to a higher understanding of how I am going to live my life in the days and years to come. I can’t imagine living this new life as anyone other than a determined, loving, and accepting mother as it is in sharing my story that I  have emerged with the reborn driving force behind whom I have already started to become. Also, even stronger than my own belief in myself, I have come to experience an indescribable “knowing” within my soul that I have many companions during this difficult journey from my chrysalis – a catalyst moving me toward finding my voice, and my wings, once again.

Justin’s 2nd Grade Butterfly Report Pictures drawn by Justin

Over these past 4 years I have become stronger, braver, more courageous, humble and very grateful. And I know that I am strong enough to take the first steps, brave enough to speak for those who can’t, courageous enough to take a leap of faith during this pivotal moment in my life, humble enough to say a sincere thanks to those for reinforcing my transformational journey by allowing me a chance for discovery of life beyond tragedy, and finding my voice through words so I can help others find theirs.

I will always be Justin’s Mom and Darrell will always be Justin’s Dad. Justin is the gift that keeps on giving.  We miss him every day and we will love and honor him forever with love.

I Gift from Felicia

Darrell & Susan at the American Heart Stroke Ball
Disney Concert Hall


Justin’s work in Kindergarten

Darrell and Susan on KCAL 9 News

Darrell and I will be on the 12:00 p.m. KCAL Channel 9 News tomorrow to talk about Justin and our upcoming event. The LIVE segment usually hits at 12:44 pm and runs 4-5 minutes.

We are very excited about having our guest speaker Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng. She is the Co-Founder of “The Ceeds of Peace Foundation” & Director, of the Matsunaga Institute for Peace & Conflict Resolution at the University of Hawaii. She will talk about how we can make our immediate world better, build resilience in ourselves, and raise peace builders in our children. It is imperative that we build resilience for ourselves and for our communities.
Her book, “Ladders to the Moon”, will also be available. She wrote this book for her daughter who never met her grandmother. She shared the wisdom she gained from her own mother, Ann Dunham, who was also the mother of President Barack Obama

Click on the link for more information.

Thanks, Susan

Art, Heart, and Peace for Justin 2016


As 2016 comes to an end, we are extremely grateful for the outpouring of support and blessings that have kept us moving in the right direction and allowed the Justin Carr Wants World Peace (JCWWP) Foundation to follow Justin’s leads and support his dreams. Every picture on the front and back covers of this card tells a story of treasures uncovered, opportunities delivered and hope for better days ahead in our unpredictable and unstable world. Also worth sharing are a few notable responses that we received from Susan’s blog posts, JCWWP events, or from Justin’s many friends who reached out with their powerful words— once again revealing the ripples that continue to grow even wider from the impact of Justin’s gifts, life and legacy.










The JCWWP “Dare 2 Dream” Saturday program continues to provide invaluable math tutoring and visual and performing arts workshops for underserved elementary students. Art activities included some of Justin’s favorite projects i.e. designing masks out of palm fronds, (a symbol of victory, triumph, peace and eternal life), self-portraits, drawing to music and learning a choreographed dance routine.






On one occasion, Darrell witnessed an ecstatic girl running into the room clapping her hands and yelling:
“Goody, Justin Carr is here today!”












♡ S.A.F.E. did heart screening in honor of Justin. They extended the gift of life to three-dozen anxious students and their unassuming families who showed up to be tested. They used Cardea Screen—a new portable, hand-held ECG device developed for a 16-second screening of young athletes’ hearts. Physicians can quickly and accurately identify abnormal cardiac conditions that may lead to Sudden Cardiac Arrest, or other quality of life limiting conditions. We were surprised when 13% of the test results revealed red flags. This meant that it was imperative for the parents to stop their children them from doing any exercise until further cardiology evaluation.

Jonathan and Laurel














“Unfortunately sometimes blessings are birthed from tragedies. Your tragedy has given way to heart testing that Justin wasn’t afforded but is happy that in his honor, it is available to others.” Anonymous




For those who missed the JCWWP Martin Luther King Musical Tribute in February, this response sums it up:
“It was an extraordinary day! The butterfly release reminds us your baby has changed form but is still with you. And what an amazing soul he has to have the power to send you so many messages of his presence and your openness to receive his signals. I know nothing can take away the pain, but the way you and Darrell have taken your pain to help others is inspiring – the scholarship recipient who played the violin was wonderful! And the presentation by Freedom Rider, Helen Singleton, stirred my soul with the unbelievable JCWWP singers. Such talent! A wonderful day in celebration of your wonderful family.” Caroline S.

In the fall, we had the honor of speaking at the “Ceeds of Peace” conference in Hawaii. Their foundation is based on a 360º approach to raising peace-building leaders by building bridges between families, community leaders and educators and sharing resources, strengthening communities and improving our children’s lives. When you think about it, these are the things that really should matter. We spoke about how we raised Justin with those “Ceeds “of Compassion, Commitment, Courage, Conflict Resolution, Critical Thinking, Community, and Collaboration. We realized that we did a pretty good job raising Justin. Fortunately, we taught him all the “Ceeds” and implanted them in him as we cultivated and nurtured him. As we think back, nothing was ever easy and we did not always have glorious days if you know what we mean. But, the critical and important values transferred.

Ceeds of Peace 2016














“The most beautiful part of Justin lives on—his heart, his values, the connections he created. If everyone shared those values (“Ceeds“) there would be no war, no murders so much less suffering. But it is in suffering that we grow the most, learn wisdom and find our purpose through our sons! “
Scarlett Lewis (Mom of 6-year-old Jesse—a Sandy Hook Elementary School victim)



Remembering Justin…

  •  “I remember being in kindergarten and summer camp with Justin, and I will never forget his sunny disposition or his caring heart. I don’t know why tragedies like this one happen to the best people in the world.

Love, Janna”  (Justin’s Kindergarten Classmate)

  •  “The week Justin passed was actually the same week I decided to get help. It made me realize how important we all are to one another and I realized that ending my life instead of turning it around and nurturing it is NOT the answer. Learning about Justin’s life made me really understand that I have one life to live and so much I can do for the world and for others and even for myself.”    (Justin’s good friend)
  •  “I realized that I can potentially impact any community by sharing my narrative with others so that we can establish connections and learn and grow from our shared experiences. I think this was also, for Justin, the most important thing in life—creating connections and relationships with others. Both of us created these dynamic relationships with people in other ways as well, one way is just by being a good friend.”    (Maya M. JCWWP 2016 Scholarship Recipient)
  • Hi Uncle and Auntie,

Attached you’ll find a photo of me and the JCWWP tag at the top of Machu Picchu. In this life, you carry on the burden of the unfulfilled dreams of those loved ones you’ve lost, simply hoping that you can live a life big enough for not only yourself but for their souls as well. Here’s to Justin!

I love you guys,

Mackenzie ( Justin’s Godsister)








  • “There is no measurement between your hearts and the memories of Justin. We rise in death. We ascend. We float as purely and sweetly as the rare blue butterfly lingering on a camellia tree.”

Valerie M. (A wise Friend)

Happy Birthday Justin 2016

As I glance at the artwork on my office wall I think of the young man who keeps inspiring us all
World Peace is what he asked and wished for at the age of four
Not a toy or a game from the store
He waltzed through life with effortless joy
As he grew to be a giant in many ways from such a little baby boy

The detail of his work is truly evident with each and every stroke of his brush
And he did it all with without making a hush
Unmatched talent was displayed in everything he did
And we are so fortunate it has been shared and not hid
What an immense impact he has had from the start
And we can always see him through his immeasurable art
Happy Birthday Justin as we celebrate your excellence and your special day
And your wish will come true for that we all pray
Love Uncle Greg




















In Peace & Love,

Darrell and Susan Carr
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Read Susan’s blog if you missed some of the 50 plus true stories

or visit the website to get scholarship info and updates.



Justin Dared to Dream and the H-W “Hairspray” Cast Lived out his Dream

Justin Dared to Dream
And the Cast & Crew of “Hairspray” Lived out his Dream!

There is one thing I want to say again about Justin, and that is that he “dared to dream.” He made a soapbox derby car when he attended a Harvard -Westlake (H-W) Summer Program when he was 10 yrs. old. His designed license plate on the car (in his infamous turquoise and brown colors) was ” Dare 2 Dream” When he ran for student council in the 7th grade, his slogan was ” Vote for Justin Carr and he will drive you in the right direction!” Once again, Justin was able to define his character at such an early age… My baby, my baby… was always fully dressed with his smile…


One of Justin’s dreams was for H-W to produce the Broadway hit “Hairspray” for their Fall Musical. “Hairspray” was an award-winning show that made its way to the big screen. He had to correct a few people who were not familiar with when they called it “ Hair Gel” (lol). It is about a young high school girl who achieves her dream of performing to dance on a TV dance show in Baltimore in the 1960’and how she works to integrate the show in the process. Ever since 2011, Justin dreamed about this show and put his thoughts on paper sketching how it could be done. He would study all of the information that he found on the Internet, watch over and over the DVD’s of the old and new movies, and then he would chat amongst his friends to discuss his proposed cast. He did not officially cast himself and he honestly told me that he did not have to be in it. He said, ” Mom, I could just help design and build the set and help with the choreography, I just want H-W to do it!” I know that just maybe (ha!) He felt he would be a candidate for the role as “Seaweed’. He would often drop hints to the Administrators saying that they should watch this movie, and he even offered up his DVD if necessary. Justin knew that there were enough qualified kids on campus who could take on the roles, but for some reason never thought that they could or would. Subsequently, I recently learned that he would even stop kids while passing them on campus, and ask them if they could sing or dance and then he would take notes. I recently found on his desktop, a piece of paper where he sketched 1960’s hairstyles. It looked like he was thinking about what would be the best styles for the show. Guess what? Justin was spot on again. One of his sketches was identical to the hairstyle that was donned by the character Link (played by Daniel Davila). After the show, Daniel told me that it took him 45 minutes to twirl his front curl for the show.

Last May (2013) when the school announced that they would, in fact, produce “Hairspray” in the fall, I was overcome with emotion because I’m sure you can guess why…. Subsequently, it seemed like every place I looked, I saw Billboards advertising high school and theater company productions of “Hairspray”. My sister even called and told me that “Hairspray” came on TV on Father’s Day. It was everywhere. Each time I saw something related to it, my mind would wonder right back to my last conversation that I had with Justin. He was elated about going to see “Hairspray” at Pasadena City College – and his dear thespian friend Molly was catching the bus home so they could go see her mother Karen’s production. Molly was cast as the lead in the H-W show. Justin thought she could do it, and she did. “Good Golly Miss Molly” was fantastic. What a true testament to her craft!

“Hairspray” opening was last Friday night and I actually felt butterflies in my stomach the whole week prior. The night before, Justin’s classmate Henry Hahn sent me a message with a YouTube video clip and told me he thought I would like to see the hot off the press “Behind the Scenes of Hairspray” video that the students had produced.

After I watched it, I was overwhelmed and floored. Darrell heard my reaction and ran in to see what was wrong. First off, the video was so professionally done. Secondly, you could just tell that the cast members were personally and emotionally invested, and I think they just wanted to be a part of realizing one of Justin’s dreams. Job well-done H – W the filmmakers. Thanks Henry for giving me a heads up. The passions portrayed by the cast in this pre-show video reconfirmed the importance of why Darrell and I needed to attend.

Junior Alexandria Florent beautifully and brilliantly drew this. I later found out that the hand she drew on the cover (holding the hairspray can) was that of Justin’s; so in fact, he did have his hand in the Play! It was an honor that the play also was dedicated to Justin.



img_7183THE SHOW & CAST

The whole cast was great! ” They collectively did their best and their best was good enough.” The set was perfectly simple, the time period outfits were festive and creative, and Justin’s dream of having a multicultural cast was realized. Justin’s “Turquoise” color also frequented the stage beyond the compliment of costumes…

“Hairspray” gents, including Daniel (Link), Angus (Corny) (Donhem) Seaweed, Jacob (Wilbur), Noah (Mr. Pinky) were like the Hardy Boys aiding their damsel in distress 1960’s style. Their outfits were smart and their dance moves were on point and you were able to sing.

“Hairspray” ladies you were festive, colorful and seemed to enjoy all of the dance moves and songs. You know, there were a few hairdos that I think that Justin would have taken issue and he would have helped tighten them up, but I think the hairspray you used did the trick.
For the past 5 years I watched many of this cast grow up on stage, so seeing this last musical was bittersweet. I witnessed many of them perform as early as in the 7th and grade. Justin was taking notes too because he cast them (on his personal list) in the roles they played in this show.

There was Molly (Tracy) who went from being Marty in “Grease” singing ” Freddy My Love” in in 9th Grade to commanding the “Hairspray” company by singing a plethora of songs including “Good Morning Baltimore” and ” I hear the Bells”.

Molly and Justin Rose Bowl Parade 2013


Molly in ” Hairspray”








I first spotted Andrea (Penny) in the 7th grade when she debuted as Prisoner #1 with her line “Yes, Sir” in the play ” The man who came to dinner”. Then she was Justin’s (Bert Healy) backup singer in “Annie” in 8th grade. In “Hairspray”, she was a front-runner and she sang many songs. As I remembered her first line from 5 years ago, I will always remember these two lines in “Hairspray” when the audience roared after she became “hip” and said ” And, Sista’s” and ” Now I’ve tasted chocolate, and I’m never going back!”
Aiyana (Little Inez) was spotted as an orphan in “Annie”. She then commanded the stage during the Choral Solo night in 8th grade when she sang Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Girl put your record on”. In “Hairspray, Little Inez had a big voice and quick dance moves as well!

Justin and Andrea in ” Annie”





















Then there Camelia (Amber) who first turned my head during ” Annie” when she boldly sang ” Hey Hobo man….” mimicking Justin’s solo “You are never fully dressed without a smile”. Justin had coined her as Amber, and she too nailed the “mean girl in town” role.

Camelia in "Annie"
Camelia in “Annie”


Camelia in "Hairspray"
Camelia in “Hairspray”





The new senior on stage was Zita (Motormouth Maybelle). I could feel Zita and the depths of her song ” I know where I’ve been” brought me back to the days when I was planning Justin’s Celebration. Due to Justin’s love of music, I thought that it would be apropos for songs from Broadway musicals to be sung. The only reason that Justin came to H-W was because my dear friend Merle saw him perform as Rafiki in one of Ms. Q’s production of the “Lion King” when he was in the 4th grade. Her daughter Taylor attended H-W and she was very successful and participated in many of the performing arts programs. While we were planning Justin’s Celebration, I asked Taylor if she knew any songs from “Hairspray” and without hesitation, she belted out a few lines of ” I know where I have been” and I said that’s it! Subsequently, she did bring down the house when she sang that song from her heart during his service.

I have to give a shout out to Senior Grace (The Gym Teacher) your buddy Justin was always honest with you. He told you he could always help you out with the singing, but you were truly a better actor and a threat at that! You get “Extra Credit for that!” Good job.

And Junior’s Dora (Edna) and Delilah (Velma), Autumn (Prudy) you owned your roles and we felt your character through your style, dance, and songs. Keep singing for Justin

Going into tonight’s final showing of Hairspray, I expected it to be bittersweet and sad to see everyone emotional and crying during and after the show in memory of you, but instead, it was beautiful to see how much you were able to touch people during your precious time with us. Those tears represented how loved you are by everyone around you and how you made a difference in all of our lives with your signature smile and sass. A cast member and friend of mine would have a wave of emotion come over her whenever Zita gave her amazing rendition of I Know Where I’ve Been and especially embodied this love for you. During the rehearsals leading up the show, whenever Zita sang that number, my friend would grab my arm and hold onto it during the song. At the time, I didn’t know why she was doing it, but on the Friday’s performance, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I found out that was the same song that was sung at your funeral and realized that just hearing it made her emotional and holding my arm was comforting to her. Before the song started in each performance, you could tell that she was trying to control her emotions. She would start to pace nervously across the little space that we have backstage and when the song started she would progressively start to become more and more emotional and start to cry. I would put my hand on her shoulder to comfort her, and she would grab it and squeeze it until the song finished. Just hearing the song made her become so emotional in memory of you. This strong and confident girl was reduced to a ball of emotions just from hearing a song that reminded her of you. The song moved all of the other cast members as well, and there were tears in everyone’s eyes after it finished. You are just that amazing Justin, and we all love you so much. During post-show tonight, your parents were so strong and gave amazing speeches about you and everyone would start crying just from hearing your name in senior speeches. Thank you so much, Mr. and Mrs. Carr. Your dad talked about how at the age of four, you told him that you wanted to achieve world peace, just more testament to the kind of person that you were.
I know it is going to be hard, but I promise you that I’m going to try my best to achieve world peace for you, buddy. Thank you for all that you have done for us and we will carry your memory and spirit with us forever.

So many things tonight reminded me of you. Hairspray, seeing your wonderful mother, walking on the stairs the last time I saw you…I just wanted to let you know how much I miss you. How much we all miss you. While the production tonight was simply incredible, it just wasn’t the same. The sets were there, but you didn’t build them, and there was a Seaweed, but it wasn’t you. It saddens me that life just keeps on going, sometimes seeming like nothing has changed, but to so many of us everything has completely changed. I’m so proud to call so many of the cast of Hairspray my good friends, and I’m so appreciative and lucky to have had a friend in you, too.

Miss you Justin
Love Maddy”

“Susan – I love you so much and I miss Justin for you! I’m happy to have discovered him for HW and appreciate the recognition for playing a part in such a meaningful part of Justin’s life. I love HW too and it made me so happy to finally see a truly diverse cast in an HW production. Hopefully, it won’t be the last and Justin’s legacy for change AND inclusion will live in the HW theater department where it is so greatly needed. Hats off to Pugh and Spears for daring to be different! Like I always told Taylor – everybody is different and different is good! XOXO your BFF Merle”

“Susan Justin’s Love and Spirit Shined all the way through the Show and beamed out of the brilliant kids in the cast!!!! Justin’s voice was heard…. and always will be…. Love always to the beautiful Dreamer Justin…and to you and Darrell!!!! Manette”
Darrell and I attended the opening and closing shows. We got more of a “backstage” tour of how Justin and his peers impacted each other. People who we knew and or whom we did not know told us more stories about Justin and gave us much-needed hugs. I know that we are not the only family dealing with a loss of some sort as well. Of course, it was hard not watching Justin grace the stage. But, seeing the kids did fill up a bit of our void in our hearts. All had tears of joy and sadness, I can’t deny that. The kids said Justin would often assist them rehearsing their lines, sing behind the curtain to boost the chorus when necessary, help with the dance moves to keep everyone in step, make sure that the costumes from head to toe were in order, and make quirky faces throughout most shows and rehearsals. After the show, we spoke (impromptu) to the 70 plus members of the cast and crew. We thanked them for a job well done, and we told them how important it was for them “to be true to yourself, dare to dream, treat people fare, accept people who may think out of the box, and that you are never fully dressed without a smile, so keep smiling for Justin.” I know where Justin has been and what he wanted to achieve in this life. Just wish he was granted more time.
Thank you to the H-W Team of Drama Administrators and to the magnificent cast and crew for accepting the Dare to Realize Justin’s dream. Like Kate Benton (Justin’s MS Dean/Drama told me) “This was indeed the best Thank You/Love Letter that you could have given Justin at this time.

That’s all folks, I’m still emotionally recovering and I’m “good enough” for the moment.

Justin singing Mooning in Grease with Arden

I know where I have been

There’s a light in the darkness
Though the night is black as my skin
There’s a light burning bright
Showing me the way but I know where I’ve been
There’s a cry in the distance
It’s a voice that comes from deep within
There’s a cry asking why
I pray the answer’s up ahead ’cause I know where I’ve been
There’s a road, we’ve been travelin’
Lost so many on the way
But the riches will be plenty
Worth the price we had to pay
There’s a dream in the future
There’s a struggle that we have yet to win
And there’s pride in my heart
‘Cause I know where I’m going yes I do
And I know where I’ve been yeah
There’s a road (there’s a road), we must travel (we must travel)
There’s a promise (there is a promise), we must make (that we must make)
But the riches (oh, but the riches) will be plenty (riches will be plenty, yeah)
Worth the risk (worth the risk) and chances we take
There’s a dream in the future, there’s a struggle that we have yet to win (we have yet to win)
Use that pride (pride) in our hearts (in our hearts)
To lift us up, to tomorrow
‘Cause just to sit still would be a sin
(I know it, I know it
I know where I’m going)
Lord knows I know
Where I’ve been
Oh, when we win
I’ll give thanks to my God
‘Cause I know where I’ve been
Marc Shaiman; Scott Wittman

Peace be with you,





What Would Justin Do? Election 2016

What Would Justin Do?

Everyone knows that my pattern of writing is not scheduled weekly, daily or monthly. It is intermittent. When the feeling hits me I try and put pen to paper. So, today is the day. Honestly, with the state of affairs that our country is battling, I have been on edge for a few months as I think about this pending question: “What would Justin do? I think I was also triggered to write since I attended an event at the Duarte, California Teen Center this past Saturday. It was a Unity March and rally to promote peace and unity in the community. The keynote speaker, Lois Gaston—a community leader— spoke about Justin and his vision for peace. Through the tears, this event gave me hope and reinforced the importance of ” Teaching our Children” in the right direction as they watch us.

Initially, my mind was working on me to go, but my body was telling me otherwise. I am glad that I went. After the march, I watched the kids enter the park holding their peace signs high and donning tee shirts in a rainbow of colors. Their message was the same: “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” Imagine All the People Living Life in PEACE”


screenshot-2016-11-07-12-47-54 screenshot-2016-11-07-12-47-41 screenshot-2016-11-07-12-47-30
There was poetry, dance, and songs such as: Imagine, What the World Needs Now, The Greatest Love of All, Teach your Children. If you ever listen to the lyrics of these songs, they all have the same theme- love and peace. They all moved me to the core. But when they played “Man in the Mirror,” I almost hit the floor because of the meaning of that song as it relates to Justin…

Justin’s school choir did a wonderful tribute to him a few months after he died.

This Election year would have been Justin’s first time voting.

Many of Justin’s friends constantly ask me a barrage of questions and I gladly welcome them all. “What do you think Justin would be saying about this election? Where do you think Justin would be going to college? What do you think his response would be to the “ Black Lives Matters Movement? What do you think he would handle how the hatred and bullying that is at the center of this election?”

I was actually touched when one of Justin’s friends sent me a picture of her. She was wearing Justin’s black Calvin Klein sweater (that I gave her to fight off the east coast chill) to a unity rally on her campus. She said, “ Justin was with me today as we marched for peace!”

Being a part of the process- when Justin can’t –keeps me grounded and connected and as I see and watch them grow, I can only visualize what would be Justin’s thoughts and perspective on these issues that plague our society.
Ceeds of Peace is a 360º approach to raising peace-building leaders. We support and build bridges between families, community leaders and educators to share resources and develop action plans to strengthen our communities and improve our children’s lives.

Critical Thinking, Courage, Compassion, Conflict Resolution, Commitment, Collaboration, Community…
Imagine if we were to plant these “Ceeds of Peace around children and youth, and cultivate these skills in the adults who interact with them at home, in schools, and in the community, wrapping them in the practice of these skills every day?

After we spoke recently at a “Ceeds of Peace” conference in Hawaii, I realized that Darrell and I did a pretty good job of raising Justin. We taught him with all the “Ceeds” and implanted in him as we raised and nurtured him. As I think back, nothing is ever easy and we did not always have glorious days if you know what I mean. But the critical and important values transferred.

Ceeds of Peace 2016
Ceeds of Peace 2016

I will never forget the story that one of Justin’s dear friends shared with me that she wrote about for her college essay. Like a lot of Justin’s friends the aftermath of losing him, in a flash still, rocks their minds to the core. However, I honestly think that they are now living their lives with purpose, following their dreams, as they choose passion vs. prestige, or as they change their majors to Art History (their passion) vs. Finance and Economic (their parents dream) or choose to work with children, a nonprofit or for a social justice cause for their life experience.

So ,Justin’s friend  Angie (who is of a multiracial background including African American) volunteered to tutor math at the Justin Carr Wants World Peace Saturday “ Dare 2 Dream” workshops.


On this particular day, she was paired up with a young  African American girl. Before she could start the lesson, the girl looked at the Angie a bit puzzled and sideways and said innocently: “Are you from the other side? “(Meaning you are not black why are you here?) She told me that even though she was shocked at the question, she had to quickly think: “What would Justin say?” It did not take long for her to respond from the heart and she said: “ No. I’m on the same side!”

Justin and Angie
Justin and Angie

So, I just went through my picture gallery and pulled out these photos of Justin. Every picture tells a story. Throughout his life, he truly loved his life. He was

Juju and his cousins
Juju and his cousins
Wedding Bells, Fun times with Justin and his god sisters
Wedding Bells, Fun times with Justin and his god-sisters

on top of this world as he embraced his peers anywhere he went- at the Montessori School, the Episcopal School, the Charter School, Public School and the Private School he attended.


Justin's Cousins
Justin’s Cousins

He had black, white, brown and Asian friends.  He had friends who had two mothers, two dads, traditional and nontraditional families, single parents, biracial, immigrants, Jewish, Catholic, Muslims, no faith, Episcopal, Christians. It really did not matter.

Justin’s Friends from High School
Justin helping his friend Mikala in 2nd grade
Justin’s image of his world in 5th Grade
Justin's Friends from Elementary School
Justin’s Friends from Elementary School
Justin’s World as he saw it with  his 2nd grade with his friends from all walks of life
Justin’s Pride 5th Grade



Justin's friends in High School
Justin’s friends in High School
Justin’s friends  Simone and Kelly in Kindergarten
Justin's friend Kelly in High School
Justin and his same  friend Kelly in High School
Justin’s friends Berrie and Lana  in 7th Grade

He had good friends that were boys and girls. He respected his elders. He tried to resolve conflicts. He helped his friends and stranger who needed a hand. He was bullied on a few occasions and he got the courage to stand up to them too! He loved his family, which was made up of cousins with African American, Filipina, Caucasian, Brazilian, heritage. He was proud of his country who was on top of this world and thought his America was great!
I have had butterflies in my stomach for many months now and on this election eve I just woke up with thoughts on my mind. This formative election goes beyond political persuasion. The unforeseen aftermath will either piggyback on the values like the “Ceeds of Peace” or destroy the core values that we should be instilling in our children who are the future. So as I think about “ What would Justin do? And how my baby would react to this election, I am proud to say that Darrell and I taught him the same way that our parents taught us and that was to “ treat people the way you want to be treated. Don’t let other people determine how you act. And Just Do the Right Thing!

Teach the Children

You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a goodbye.
Teach your children well,
Their father’s hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you.
And you, of tender years,
Can’t know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth,
They seek the truth before they can die.
Teach your parents well,
Their children’s hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.
Songwriters: Graham Nash
Teach Your Children lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Spirit Music Group



Justin’s cousin JJ and his friend he just met



In Loving Memory of Justin Carr, by Susan and Darrell Carr