“I Love U Guys” Foundation and the story of Emily Keyes

The last text sent by Emily

The last text sent by Emily

Brandy Alba, Writer

Story by: Brandy Alba
Photos by: Google search on “I love you guys.”

Do you know why we are changing our safety procedures? The tragic loss of 16-year-old Emily Keyes inspired the “I Love U Guys” Foundation, this story is about healing and progress.

“I love you guys” was the last message that Emily Keyes sent through text while she was being held hostage on September 27th, 2006. Fear occurred when a gunman entered Platte Canyon High School and held seven girls hostage. Emily Keyes was the unfortunate girl that was killed in the incident.

Emily’s death and text message inspired Emily’s parents John-Michael Keyes and Ellen Stodard-Keyes to use her last words, “I love you guys” as a foundation and website. It was created to, “restore and protect the joy of youth through educational programs and positive action in collaboration with families, schools, communities, organizations, and government entities,” said Mr. Keyes.

John-Michael Keyes, who was contacted by email, is the Executive Director of the “I Love U Guys.” foundation. His wife Ellen Stodard-Keyes was asked if there had been any changes since he and Mrs. Keyes started the “I Love U Guys” foundation. (s)he responded by saying, “The outpouring of support when we lost Emily in 2006 was tremendous. With some of the funds that came in, we started the ‘I Love U Guys’ foundation.”

He further explained, “In 2014 we worked on version 2.0 of the SPR (Standard Response Protocol) and released it in 2015. This year we have some new stuff coming on-line that is complimentary to these programs.”

He was also asked about the reactions of people when Emily’s story was told, he responded by saying, “Emily’s story is a tough one. But part of that story is about is still here. How families react to tragedy. How people who hear the story can make a difference in their world.”

Mr. Keyes was asked if Emily were here today what would she say or do? Mr. Keyes had this to say, “Emily was a smart, fiery, beautiful teenage girl. She would not hesitate to remind some alternative photos to some of the photos I use in my presentation. (‘Why are baby pictures so embarrassing?’) She might laugh at the thought of her dad spending so much time speaking to audiences. For her entire life, I was a computer programmer. But I think she would smile at how the foundations changing the world.”

The Keyes family is not the only family that has dealt with loss. Mr. and Mrs. Keyes sometimes personally get a phone call after a tragic event, a conversation sometimes happens, and sometimes a lifetime relationship occurs.

Since there are new safety measures occurring, based off of the “I love you guys” foundation, some students were asked how safe they feel in school and what should be changed. Julian Baltazar(10), Johnny Montoya(9), Adriana Miceli(9), and Tyler Maes(11) were asked how safe they felt in school, they all agreed that they felt safe. Baltazar (10), Montoya (9), and Miceli (9) said that the school board members should improve security, dangerous people being near the school, and how teachers should be allowed to have a weapon of defense in case of any emergency.

John-Michael Keyes goes by two quotes that he lives by, “You don’t choose tragedy. You can choose your response,” and lastly, “Peace. It does not mean in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” Living by these quotes help him and Mrs. Keyes keep the foundation and website going.

A text message, “I love you guys,” turned this story of tragic loss into a healing process and a foundation that many people support.