Every PICTURE tells a story… The Road to the Emmy’s


We love you Justin Carr!!
We got the Emmy for you honey!!! love Mom, Dad and Ray!!

emmyparty jujuemmy


The first time I saw this catch phase “Every Picture Tells a Story” is when I ventured into an Art Gallery, with this name, on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles, CA. I was intrigued by the original art from books that were being displayed. I had just started working at my first job out of college, and to date, my earnings were usually spent on travelling and at Loehmans, one of my favorite shopping spots. However, this was about to change when I spotted a fabulous watercolor image called the Spider Woman by a famous Black Artist named Jerry Pinkney


I just had to have it. It depicted a beautiful black woman surrounded by animals, adorned by a spider web. The colors and the details were incredible. I secured it by putting it on layaway. Subsequently, I had to limit my leisure shopping for clothes because I was anxious to place this art on my wall. Just tonight, it dawned on me that maybe it was Jerry Pinkney’s art that could have inspired Justin (at an early age) to have such a strong affinity to include his heritage in some of his artwork in his later years.

After Justin was born, I noticed how he loved looking at this picture. Often, he would sit on the window seat and call me over to show me new things he discovered in the intricate and details of the design. Subsequently, I purchased many of Jerry’s children books for Justin. They always had a colorful tapestry and an abundance of images of people of color. These books are still on the shelf….

Well, there seems to always be a twist to my thoughts as I try and get up each day. So, in order to recap some of the events of this week that sent my infinite thoughts of Justin either into a downward spiral or an upward lift, I must tell the bad with the good. It is only natural for me to be honest these days.

I get frustrated because I cannot patch this hole in my empty heart. And with this PICTURE of grief, it brings many moments of sadness along with this unimaginable life that Darrell and I have. I know it’s hard to fathom and people cannot often find the words, but sometimes comments and or spotted non verbal communication gestures just set me back.

Picture this…



The truth can be told about how we feel. Quite frankly, it can be summed up into just a few words. It starts with the letter that comes after the letter “E”. It is beyond unimaginable. It is “devastating and profound,” the exact words used in an email by a “use to be” friend (neighbor) whom I have not seen since that dreadful day in 2013. She wrote me on the anniversary of Justin’s passing to basically abandon our friendship “because this loss of Justin was “too profound and devastating for her.”  How about me? How about Darrell? Even though she lives 2 minutes away, she basically wrote that she could not be in our lives anymore, but as a consolation, she would keep good thoughts of Justin in her mind and hopes that Darrell and I will smile every day just with the memories of him.

Can you PICTURE how I reacted to this? I guess she wants to assume that I am just singing this song to keep me occupied because I can’t be sinking in sadness:

“Row, row, row my boat,

Gently down the stream.

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,

Life is but a dream. “

Oh so I wish!!!!

Why is it that some people wish that the PICTURES of Justin Carr just cease and go away? Why all of the press? They say that Justin’s Story is old news and that it has been talked about for more than just a few weeks, we need to move on. In the past, and recently, I heard that some people had verbalized that they wished that Darrell and I had stopped showing up to events at school” It was not fair to them! I think some actually believe that we are contagious and that we “bring down the house” when we do show up. They do not want to read another story or see another picture related to that dreadful Carr Family. It’s not like we parked our car on campus and waited for the pity party to begin. We attended with honor the events that we could for Justin. It helped us and the community to get though the shock of this loss. Do you think it was easy going on campus, let alone living w/o him on a daily bases  and not seeing him or bringing him home with us? PICTURE that, I’m sure you can’t imagine.

The villages of people who care and walk with us have tried to encourage us to look at the PICTURES in our life with the positive things that have come out of this tragedy. I try, but I’m not a super woman and it hurts. Hear ye Hear ye, as long as we are living, Justin will live through us. We will show up and stand up for any and everything that our broken hearts can take in honor of Justin. Like my Dad always said, “ Don’t let other people determine how you act”



So with that said, I am now going to reflect back on how CBS’s Justin’s Story (after the initial news frenzy ) came to fruition.   It was on a Friday night in 2012. Justin runs upstairs and shows me a picture from an ad he saw about a backstage tour of the famous “El Capitan theatre. He said ecstatically “Mom, they are going to have a rare tour that will be open to the public. Will you take me? “ I said, ”Sure, when is it?” He said, “Tomorrow morning at 7:00 a.m.” I hesitated for a moment, but when I saw the excitement in his eyes, I said, “OK, so go to sleep now so we can get up early and go.” And we did.

When we got into the line of about 100 people, I noticed that Justin was the youngest in the crowd among the enthusiasts with the average age of about 65-70 years old.  This did not bother Justin at all. As we toured the theatre, he marveled at the dressing rooms, the detail in the finishes, the stage, the fly loft, everything. He was in hog heaven. As we proceeded to walk down some stairs, I looked back and a man with a CBS camera crew made a motion to me to come talk to him. I went over to speak with him. He asked if I would be able to stay after the tour for an interview. I said, we could stay but I did not want to be interviewed because, I was only the driver, and it was my son Justin who wanted to come, so he should speak with him.

At the end of the tour, we waited in the lobby and the Show Producer, Raymond Bell, began interviewing Justin. Justin was just a tad bit nervous but confident in his answers about his love of Architecture and the impact of the tour. When the interview was over, Ray asked for the complete spelling of Justin’s name for the record. Then he said “Mom, what is your name?” I said “ Susan Toler Carr”. He paused for a minute looked at me and said, “Is there any relationship to Burl Toler?” I said, “Yes. He was my father.” Ray was so excited. He told me that he grew up in the Bay Area, played football for UCLA and always had the highest respect for my Dad, and he would love to do a Documentary on him. We exchanged contact information.  Subsequently, a few weeks later on a saturday morning,  the El Capitan episode aired on both CBS 2 and KCAL 9 news.


I will always remember that day because my phone started ringing when people saw Justin on TV. It only aired in the morning, and then it did not air the rest of the day or weekend as planned because it was preempted by the sudden death of Whitney Houston….


A few months later, Ray came over to our house with another creative artist and filmmaker, Doug Harris. They had just completed their preliminary interviews with many members of the NFL community including officials, and players to piece together a Documentary about my Father. It was a school night and Justin was tired. I remember him distinctly rolling his eyes at me when I gently asked him if he would talk about Papa to Ray and Doug who had just had a grueling day in the field. It would only be a few minutes I told Justin. He agreed, and gave me and Darrell that look to “Kindly Get lost” so we retreated downstairs to be out of mind and out of site. At the end, all Ray and Doug said to us was “Justin did great!” and they left.

Well, we never saw any part of the interview until after Justin passed away. Doug uploaded it online.


During that dreadful week of planning Justin’s service, my brother Martel was searching the Internet trying to keep up with the media. He said” Did you see the YouTube video of Justin talking about Dad? “ I said “No, and at this juncture I don’t think I can. “ Days passed before I saw it. I’m sure most of you have seen it. When I did watch it, I got goose bumps .The PICTURES of Justin were incredible as he profoundly spoke passionately about the love he had for his Grandfather. But, I could not help but notice that even though Justin spoke lovingly about my Dad, he did not realize that he was also speaking about himself.


Minutes after Justin left this Earth, our phones were ringing off the hook with requests from the media for information and interviews. Thank goodness my band of CIA Agents, including Bill Funderburke, blocked all access and made sure that the correct information about Justin’s Story was accurate. For weeks after, I had TV Stations calling asking if we were ready to talk. We were not. I stalled for months because Darrell and I needed to make sure we had all of our questions answered surrounding this unimaginable loss and that we were of sound mind to talk. Then it dawned on us that we did not want a cavalier or sensationalized segment about Justin. We wanted people to know who Justin really was. So, I contacted Ray Bell. He was the only Producer who had really got a chance to meet Justin. He enjoyed talking to Justin and I watched, as he always seemed to boost Justin up with admiration. I later found out that Ray also knew first hand about what it feels like to loose a son… Need I say any more?

So at the end of Summer 2013 Ray came over with his crew, including the Reporter, Suraya Fadel (who had on turquoise) not knowing what that color meant to us. They spent hours in our home learning more about Justin.  Last Fall on a Monday night, Justin’s Story Aired on CBS 2 News at 11:00 p.m.  It was painful to watch, but beautifully done.

Today, Ray called to tell us that “ Justin’s Story” has been nominated for an Emmy Awards under the Light News Story-Single Report Category for the 66th Los Angeles Area Emmy Awards.


He said regardless if we win, it was picked from thousands of submissions, so it is an honor indeed just to be nominated amongst the talented pool.

Thank you Ray and Suraya for putting many PICTURES together to tell the story of Justin.   You put your heart and soul into this STORY that had to be told.

It is true that “Every Picture Tells A Story” Including the bad with the good. I could not tell this story without mentioning the bad that has come with the good surrounding my life as I know it now.

Because of Ray and Suraya’s diligence  there was even a Part 2 of Justin’s Story where a local high school (Oaks Christian)  started testing athletes and saving lives as a direct result of hearing about the demise of Justin.    I wish we would have known…….This story needs to be told!!!

Oaks Christian School Offers Heart Screenings For Athletes After Swimmer’s Death
The death of a young athlete due to an undetected heart condition is leading to changes that will save lives. Justin Carr, a young student athlete at Harvard-Westlake, died during a swimming workout. His autopsy revealed that he, unknowingly,suffered from cardiomyopathy, which is a weakening of…




jcarchJustin's Bust of Papa 8th gradejustiblecoatRikio, Justin Mako


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JCWWP Videos

Videos, from various sources, about Justin.


ArtsAhimsa Justin Carr Wants World Peace Concert Highlights

Dear Friends and Supporters,
The ArtsAhimsa Justin Carr Wants World Peace Concert was a night to remember. Over 350 people attended the event, which was filled with love, music, poetry, art, friendship, peace and hope. Thank you so much for your support and for helping us start to realize some of Justin’s dreams for World Peace through inclusion, helping the less fortunate, and even something as simple as a smile.
Thanks to Ed Napier who had the conceptual vision for the concert, Laura Goldberg for creating ArtsAhimsa events world wide, and All Saints Episcopal Church, Beverly Hills for opening up their home to our village of friends and family. Thanks to all of the people who helped make this event a success.
The talent pool included, students, teachers and parents from the Harvard- Westlake Community who made time from their extremely busy schedules. Professional Baseball Legend Joe Torre, Professional Actors: Mandy Patinkin, Michael Chiklis, Caroline Aaron, William Allen Young, Professional Musicians: Laura Goldberg, Moshe Knolls, Karen Benjamin, Alan Chapman, Scott Healy, Taylor Vaughn-Lasley, Ed Napier, John Nordstrom, Michael Dean and the All Saints Choir also graced the stage with their incredible talents. A full line up of talent are listed in the attached program.
Click on the links below to watch two short 3-5 minute videos highlighting concert. A full video of the concert will be available soon on: http://www.justincarrwantsworldpeace.org

Produced by Nathaniel Beaver of parry-ripostefilms

Produced by Henry Hahn and Alex Thal Harvard- Westlake Students


In Peace and Love,
The Carr FamilyJCWWP ArtsAhimsa Program InsideJustins globe10372518_319082021574443_7068628700198519757_nJCWWP_Logo_with_Butterfly_II_copy copy



As part of the recovery process from yesterday, I had to do a little research about the awards that were given to  Darrell Carr and I on behalf of  Justin Carr Wants World Peace . When you read the descriptions on the various awards, I think that the selections were made accordingly. Justin seemed to have some of the major qualities of both George and David.

And the Awards go to:

Justin was honored yesterday at the all-school assembly for the 2014 Senior Class Awards. Congratulations to all of the recipients. I will tell you that I knew most of the winners. That says a lot for the almost 300 kids in the class. I will assure you that about 75% of them can tell you about their special “Justin moment of influence” during the time that they shared together on campus over the five years that Justin graced both campuses. I remember a lot of them. Yesterday, many people told us that even if Justin were still here, he would still have received these awards that he earned from the “day he stepped on campus”. Thanks to the Students, Faculty and Staff for these honors. We all wished that Justin everybody’s Renaissance Man, was here, no doubt. So many “cried a river” during this highly emotional day. We are now bracing ourselves for Graduation.


1. Performing Arts Award (Words of Justin’s Technical Theatre Dept. Head) Voted on by the Faculty

“Contrary to what some may imagine, the Performing Arts Award is given not to the student with the most outstanding talent, nor to the most-improved student during their time with us– but to the student who best demonstrates through his or her engagement in our program, that which we, as a faculty, value most in a performing artist. Above all, this means that the student is an excellent collaborator; that they ask much of themselves and in so doing, raise the expectation of the group. As leaders, they are supportive, generous, and devoted. Their focus first, is on what they can do to learn, grow and improve, and second, how they can help those around them to make the production better.

Indeed, this year’s winners demonstrated an abundance of talent. They also showed a dedication to the Performing Arts we have rarely seen. Music, Theater, Dance…it seemed they just couldn’t get enough. With interests and a work ethic so similar, it seemed no coincidence that they were also “BFF’s.” Together and separately, they asked each of us to be more thoughtful artists, more thoughtful ensemble members, and more thoughtful people.

My two minutes isn’t nearly time to list their accomplishments here at Harvard-Westlake. Their too few years here, weren’t nearly even enough for them to do all they might have.

From the class of 2014, the recipients of The Performing Arts Department Award are Justin Carr and Molly Chapman.”

***I need not tell you how the room reacted to this first award. THE ROAR OF THE CROWDS” did not stop!! Good Golly Ms. Molly!!!! We all shed special tears of love for Justin right along with you. Love you and Congrats… BFF


2. The George Coleman Edwards Award

“The George Coleman Edwards award is given to a senior who has “best served the School and his/her fellow classmates. There were 10 students from the class on the ballot that was put together by the Faculty. Coleman Edwards graduated Harvard School in 1920 and his mother established the award after Coleman Edwards’ death in a shipwreck in 1921.”


3. David Justin Rascoff Award

“David Justin Rascoff, was a co-editor of the school’s paper, the Harvard News. He passed away in a car crash in June 1991 (just days before his graduation) as he returned from taking the final issue of the publication to the Printers. He was well known for his vehement opposition to the merger between all-male Harvard and the Westlake school in Holmby Hills. Rascoff, who had been accepted to Princeton University, played tight end on the football team and was a member of the student government. A group of Rascoff’s friends met Wednesday night to plan a memorial award in his honor that would be presented to the senior “who has the courage to stand up for his beliefs” He always

During a evening reception for the Visual Arts Department Justin also received the Humanitarian Art Award


4. “This Culminating Award is for the Student who most inspired us as Artists”

We are grateful that so many in the Harvard-Westlake School Community had so much love for Justin. Our little boy Blue… We must now blow your horn for you!!






The HW graduation will be streamed live Commencement 2014 will be streamed LIVE at http://new.livestream.com/hwtvschool . Tune in! 10:30 on Friday  June 6, 2014


Justin was suppose to see Hairspray with Molly that dreadful night. She wrote two songs about Justin. She is so talented… She wrote this song for Justin last year…

http://youtu.be/O7kxMETmrSk  ;;;;

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Justin and his BF Chanell pose with the HW Diversity Award
Justin and his BF Chanell pose with the HW Diversity Award
Justin doing one of his passions on stage
Justin doing one of his passions on stage
Justin and his BFF Molly at 2013 Rose Bowl Parade
Justin and his BFF Molly at 2013 Rose Bowl Parade
Thank You!!  No Justin Thank You!
Thank You!! No, Justin Thank You!

Justin’s Luggage Tags Travel the Globe (World Peace)

Today, I connected with some of Justin’s school friends, two who are now rising college sophomores and their Mothers. Jazzi Marine, Mikaila Mitchell , Joni Marine, Shari Mitchell. I was anxious to hear all about their first year of college, and they were thoughtful enough to check in on me. They all have been frequently keeping in touch, even when they were away at college. I am grateful for them. They wanted to know how we handled the recent HW Graduation. I told them the truth-that it was hard but necessary to attend, and it was something that we had to do for Justin Carr World-Peace and for his classmates and the HW community. I said that even through the pain of it all, it was still beautiful and that we had to appreciate and honor the glory of hearing Justin’s name.


Instead of trying to paraphrase the speeches, I pulled up Zoe Bohn’s poignant valedictorian speech on YouTube and shared it with them.   I said her speech was not only relevant for the HW 2014 graduates, but it was apropos for everyone on how to the thankful for their blessings, how to deal with life, and move forward even with the aftermath of the unforeseen tragic blows. Zoe said I could share portions of her closing speech. Need I say how I felt after I heard her thoughts?


She said:

“There are two people who are not here with us today; two people who are sorely missed. Justin and Julia were two of the most vibrant members of our class, and no words can express the tragedy of losing them. Not a day goes by where we don’t think of them, and our Februarys will be forever filled with blue and purple. But although Justin and Julia aren’t up on here with us today physically, we carry them with us. Virginia Woolf explains this in the most beautiful way I’ve heard in her novel Mrs. Dalloway. She describes death as “being part of people she had never met; being laid out like a mist between the people she knew best, who lifted her on their branches as she had seen the trees lift the mist…it spread ever so far, her life, herself.” The World Peace for Justin Carr and Slow Down For Julia campaigns have affected the lives of people that Justin and Julia never even got the chance to meet. They have continued accomplishing incredible things, just like the rest of us. And, as Woolf expressed, Justin and Julia live on in us, because we would not be the people we are today without them. We are better people for having known them. So next year, Justin and Julia will find themselves at Tisch and at Harvard, at Stanford and at USC, and at all of the other colleges we will be attending, and they will help us to continue accomplishing incredible things.

So to my fellow classmates: be proud of everything you’ve achieved here; be grateful for the gifts you’ve been given; and be prepared to shine in the years that come. Thank you.”


After listening, everyone agreed that this was one of the best graduation speeches ever and that they too will remember what Zoe said as they continue to live their lives.


Zoe’s full speech


Also, during the course of the day,  other friends, Merle Vaughn Florence Pi , and Kathy Mangum

Justin's Tag moves across the world
Justin’s Tag moves across the world
Justin's Tag off to Copenhagen
Justin’s Tag off to Copenhagen
Justin Travels to Vegas with Kathy
Justin Travels to Vegas with Kathy

sent me pictures of their luggage tags that they used en route to their business destinations. They said that they are taking Justin with them on the road. We gave Justin’s classmates luggage tags so that Justin can go off to college with them. Everyone else can take them with him or her as they travel too. This made me smile.


My thoughts on Justin and Julia were remembered during the anniversaries of their transitions this past February.



I don’t know what else to do….

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STILL I RISE (Prayers Continue for Justin)


Saturday, I woke up in the middle of the night (I guess during my REM stage of sleep) and typed in the words “Still I Rise” into my phone, then I went back to sleep. When I woke up hours later, I recalled that our beloved Phenomenal Woman Maya Angelou had written the poignant poem “STILL I RISE.” I read it and quickly noticed how so many of the couplets in her poem related to the life Justin led. Maybe that’s why the words came to me so clearly in my sleep.

Through the pain of this unimaginable loss, it is heart warming to take notice on how the legacy of Justin, our Phenomenal Young Man, has created a new life of its own—one that will help us RISE out of bed and try to put one foot on the floor. Yes, the blueprints of treasures that Justin left behind—his songs, his dance, his words of wisdom, his art, his messages of hope, and his self proclaimed character traits—of being skillful, observant, sensitive, helpful and creative will continue to resonate in the hearts and minds of so many, even those who never met him and those that only knew him briefly. But, I must say that often it is still hard to RISE up each day without his physical presence within arms reach.


You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise?
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Maya Angelou

It is apparent, even with the stretch of my imagination, that I take Justin with me everywhere I go. Last week, at a whirlwind of unconnected events, somehow they all mentioned the sweet sound of Justin’s name. From the pomp and circumstances of a Catholic wedding, a Non-sectarian school wide awards ceremony, a Jewish B’nai Mitzvah, and an Episcopal Sunday Sermon, unexpectantly these inter-faiths all came together by including blessings and honors for Justin. And as my infamous phase goes “ I can’t make this stuff up!” It propelled me to write. I have to get it out.


A few Saturday’s past, we proudly witnessed the wedding ceremony and beautiful personal vows of Soledad (my dear high school friend) and her best friend Marshall in our hometown of San Francisco, CA. As we looked out into the vistas of the San Francisco skyline from the tiled terrace of the historic Fairmount Hotel Penthouse, and listen to their spoken words, we were caught off guard when Justin’s name rang out during the Prayers of Remembrance along with Soledad’s parents and Marshall’s father who, too, have gone before us. Later Soledad told me: “ I consider Justin right up there with the love I had for my parents. He will always have that special place in my heart.” It was so thoughtful of them to include Justin in their sacred covenant and personal day of celebration.

Soledad’s connection to Justin is far deeper than many people know. She and I just happened to be at the right place at the right time when it was time for Justin to come into this world. Ironically, it was Soledad who delivered Justin. I had not planned to deliver Justin at the hospital where she worked. It just happened to be the nearest hospital since time was of the essence. Need I say that when she delivered Justin, she was also pregnant with her youngest child Shaylyn who was born just two weeks after Justin. She is also Justin’s Godmother.

So, even during the holy matrimony of a couple,
Justin name STILL RISES and was included in the love shared between two.


Top Senior Honor Awards were given out to a about 10% of the graduating class. The Faculty voted on most of them. The student body voted on one. Darrell and I painfully, yet with pride, received the awards on Justin’s behalf. These awards given to Justin were not out of circumstance: he would have received them even if he were still standing and some said that his name could have been placed on them in the early days when he first set foot on the campus.


1. Performing Arts Award
“Contrary to what some may imagine, the Performing Arts Award is given not to the student with the most outstanding talent, nor to the most-improved student during their time with us– but to the student who best demonstrates through his or her engagement in our program, that which we, as a faculty, value most in a performing artist. Above all, this means that the student is an excellent collaborator; that they ask much of themselves and in so doing, raise the expectation of the group. As leaders, they are supportive, generous, and devoted. Their focus first, is on what they can do to learn, grow and improve, and second, how they can help those around them to make the production better. Performing arts (Shared with his BFF Molly Chapman)

2. David Justin Rascoff Award
“David Justin Rascoff, was a co-editor of the school’s paper, the Harvard News. He passed away in a car crash in June 1991 (just days before his graduation). He was well known for his vehement opposition to the merger between all-male Harvard and the girl’s Westlake school. Rascoff, who had been accepted to Princeton University, played tight end on the football team and was a member of the student government. This memorial award presented to the senior “who has the courage to stand up for his beliefs” He always had the courage to say what he believed no matter how unpopular that made him.

3. The George Coleman Edwards award is given to a senior who has “best served the School and his/her fellow classmates.” There were 10 students from the class on the ballot which was put together by the Faculty. The whole student body voted on this award.

4. Humanitarian Art Award “This Culminating Award is for the Student who most inspired us as Artists”. Justin did not have any formal art training. Most of his masterpieces were just homework assignments.

As the names were called for the 25 awards, I was elated to have personally known most of the recipients. They were Justin’s friends. For years, five of them even road the bus with him each morning. They all have been accepted into top colleges and have promising futures ahead of them. Many of them have shared with me their wonderful, idiosyncratic “Justin encounters” which helped shaped them. Whether it was:
• His warm personality or his smile
• Looking up to him for inspiration
• His genuine and funny personality
• His enthusiasm that made people happy
• His comforting nature during stressful times
• His nurture and support to help build self confidence
In some way or another, Justin impacted their lives. I know that their true friendships with Justin also impacted him as well. Friendships go both ways.



Mikey (my Jewish nephew), had his Bar Mitzvah with another young boy. At a mere 13 years of age, I can see Justin’s traits shining through him. As we walked up the steps through the Temple doors, I had to pause and reflect on the many times Justin attended Bar and Bat Mitzvahs there. I remember he took pride in getting invited to his friends’ rites of passage. He made a point to always attend the service to honor his friend and then make plans to go to the fun after party. Justin would always stay and support his friends until the end of the festivities. He did not like to see kids come and leave a party before it was over. He wanted to make sure his friends were surrounded in joy to the end. We gave Justin his surprise “Bro mitzvah” as some of his friends called it, when he turned 13. No formal ceremony, just fun times at LA LIVE bowling alley. He was shocked and surprised.

As I read in the program and what Mikey’s parents Lori and David’s personal statement of love to him, my heart began to beat fast. The words brought me back to the love we had for Justin. They wrote: “Our friends and family have called you an ‘old soul’— a child who can have a conversation with a person of any age. Your interest in photography, technology, and stage mirror your understanding of what is beautiful in the world and what makes people and things tick.” Darrell and I are totally aligned with Lori and David with their unconditional love for Mikey, and their unyielding will and desire to support all of his curiosities. A true blessing when parents let their children “be” who they want to “be”. Mickey is spirited, intuitive, creative, sensitive and willing to lend a hand. Last year, he took the time and made a personal phone case for me with a turquoise butterfly inscribed with Justin Carr Wants World Peace. Now what 7th grader do you know would take the time to even think of designing such a gift? I am so glad that Mikey was able to spend time with Justin.

Louie was the other young boy who was also celebrating his Bar Mitzvah whom we did not know. However, we got to know him quickly. We learned that he was and only child, who stood strong during his fathers illness and he wanted to be an Architect and an Engineer. His parent’s message to him was: “Wee have gotten to watch and see you become a kid who thinks ‘outside the box.’ Your imagination is incredible. You began to build first with blocks, then action figures. You saw and created things in such a unique way.”

So as you can see, both Mikey and Louie both had similar traits and passions just like Justin. I could not believe it nor can I make this stuff up.

What also caught my attention was when Louie’s Father Jeff shared his love to his son by citing a verse form Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self Reliance”. He encouraged Louie to continue to trust himself.

“Emerson, who is known for his repeated use of the phrase – “trust thyself” which means to have faith in yourself, has woven it into his work – “Self-Reliance”. It is his explanation of what he meant by the repeated use of the phrase – “trust thyself”.
Emerson wrote that every individual has a genius in him which comes out when one trusts himself, has faith in himself, when one can trust his thoughts, feelings and his desire and passion even after all disapprovals.

I thought of Justin the whole time I was hearing Emerson’s words. These words reminded me of the meaning behind the David Justin Rasnoff award that Justin received just a few days earlier. Justin (like David) stood up for his believes, even if his ideals were not popular. I am so glad that Justin trusted himself and his beliefs and relied on his self worth. He was often able to RISE above adversity.

Justin’s name was also mentioned in the program for the Kaddish prayer along with both families revered departed. Saying Kaddish for a deceased loved one is an ancient Jewish tradition. Kaddish is an act of loving-kindness towards the departed’s soul, enabling that soul to ascend to the higher realms. Darrell and I were so touched by this love for Justin shared during the rites of passage for Mikey. It was our honor to witness this special occasion with Lori and David’s closet family and friends.



Weeks earlier I had received a message from a young lady whom we met after attending the 2013 Student Diversity and Leadership Conference (SDLC). She is a graduating senior at a local high school. During this past year, she has come to know about the spirit of Justin. She met him briefly in December of 2012 at the SDLC conference. They were standing in line to meet the Astronaut ,Dr. Bernard Harris. Justin let everyone go ahead of him because he wanted to be the last one to speak to him. He was so excited about meeting him that he sent me a picture of them together. Justin loved this conference. He came home and said “ Mom, it is ok to be me!”

Lora told me that she was selected to give the sermon at All Saint’s Episcopal Church on Sunday as part of the Youth Day Program. She wanted to know if it was ok to reference Justin when she spoke. I agreed, and told her that I did not think I could come into the church (where we held Justin’s service) but I would watch it online. When I mentioned it to Darrell, he said he wanted to go. So we surprised her. This girl is brilliant and the way she weaved Justin into her message was beautiful. I could not see clearly see at all through the tears after she finished. The Rector Ed Bacon gave Lora a blessing since she was graduating and also gave a blessing for Justin, because he too should have been a graduating senior. I was so glad that we were there to witness this young mind speak so passionately about her life, beliefs and goals. Here are portions of her Sermon:

“I Dream A World Of Eternal Life
“I dream a world where one/No other one will scorn, /Where love will bless the earth/And peace its paths adorn” These words, based on the Langton Hughes poem, I Dream a World, are part of a piece we sang in Trouvéres my eighth grade year. This utopian world that Hughes dreams of is the same as the eternal life Jesus refers to in today’s gospel. In today’s gospel, Jesus turns to God and begs, “Give eternal life, to all you have given to me. ” This eternal life that Jesus is referring to does not mean immortality, but rather he is describing a quality of life, to be able to truly live, a joyous life, a peaceful life, a purposeful life that begins here and now, in this lifetime. Furthermore, eternal life is not only experienced on an individual basis–Global eternal life is all about the interdependence and interconnection of all of humanity. In this oneness nobody is excluded; everyone belongs, everyone is always welcome.

In that room at the SDLC conference, I found eternal life—that unquenchable drive to soar—within me and around me. In this context, eternal life is not so much a lifestyle or mindset, but an atmosphere. Just as a chrysalis incubates a young caterpillar as it transforms into a soaring butterfly, this conference was like my chrysalis. This transformational experience marked my re-emergence into this world as a new and revitalized person and set the tone for what I see as my purpose in this world. I finally understood who I am and learned how to accept that. Living this purposeful life, doing what I have been put on this earth to do, is bringing the kingdom of heaven into the here and now.

Two years ago, while standing in line at the SDLC to take a picture with Dr. Bernard Harris—the first African American astronaut—I met a young man named Justin Carr. Justin understood global eternal life better than anyone I had ever met before. Since a young age, his dream had been to achieve world peace and he had done far more than the average 16-year old to reach this goal by ensuring that everyone felt included and cared for. This past year I learned that Justin’s dreams had been curbed when he passed away from idiopathic hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. But Justin’s eternal life did not begin posthumously. Through small actions, like the way he constantly looked out for his friends, treated everyone with respect, and boldly refused to fall victim to a society that tries to put everyone into boxes, Justin lived an eternal life that continues to inspire all of us to do the same. It is not always the monumental, heroic acts that define one’s eternal life. Sometimes it is the smaller acts of goodness and authenticity that are the key to a true, genuine, eternal life.”

Justin, on your would be graduation day, we will RISE UP proudly and accept your diploma for you honey. You are an angel in the heavens across the faiths from Catholic to Jewish to Episcopal. This is what world peace is about. When others can state their love, show their love and welcome you into their place of worship without hesitation

These experiences were true and really happened. Justin is in the hearts and minds everywhere, not just within me. JUSTIN’S NAME HAS RISEN WITHIN THE WALLS OF VARIOUS RELIGIOUS FAITHS’.

As Molly sang in her song she wrote for Justin “Butterfly,” “You were the best, and you did not know it” I hope you know it now baby…


I will love you Always and Forever,


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