Allen Hurns thinks about Stoneman Douglas every time he steps on the field with the Dallas Cowboys. The former Miami Hurricane grew up about 45 minutes from Parkland and attended Carol City, so when he signed with the Cowboys in March and chose a new number, the memories of the 17 students and staff members who died in the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting weighed heavily on him.
Hurns chose to wear No. 17 and Thursday he’ll have a new way to honor the 17. When he suits up to face the New Orleans Saints on Thursday Night Football, he’ll also have the first names of the 17 who died adorned across his cleats. Hurns is taking part in the NFL’s My Cause, My Cleats campaign Thursday and his cause is Make Our Schools Safe and Safe Schools for Alex, a pair of non-profit organizations founded by the parents of students killed in the shooting.
“Each and every day when I go to practice or when I have a game,” Hurns said in an NFL video about his cause, “I’m also thinking about those families.”
Those families are those of Alyssa Alhadeff, Scott Beigel, Martin Duque, Nicholas Dworet, Aaron Feis, Jaime Guttenberg, Chris Hixon, Luke Hoyer, Cara Loughran, Gina Montalto, Joaquin Oliver, Alaina Petty, Meadow Pollack, Helena Ramsay, Alex Schachter, Carmen Schentrup and Peter Wang, whose first names will be listed on the instep of both shoes.
During his bye week, Hurns made a return to South Florida to meet with students at the school and the parents who founded the non-profit organizations he’ll raise awareness for.
At the school, Hurns sat down with students who have been organizers in the aftermath of the shooting. They shared their memories of the day and Hurns told them about his upbringing in Miami Gardens and how it’s informed his enthusiasm about the cause.
“I know that’s for sure something that doesn’t feel real,” Hurns said. “You know, I want to Miami Carol City. Around there, it’s a lot of violence. There was times the school was on lockdown, but nothing to the capacity of what you guys went through.”
His other two stops were to the homes of Alhadeff and Schachter, two of the students killed in February. Alhadeff’s parents are the founders of Make Our Schools Safe, and Lori Aldaheff took Hurns on a tour through her daughter’s old bedroom and explainedto Hurns some of the goals for her organization. Among Aldaheff’s proposals include the installation of bulletproof glass on schoolroom doors and the implementation of better reactive practices.
Hurns also stopped in to visit with Max Schachter, the father of Schachter. He got another bedroom tour and sat down with Schachter to discuss Safe Schools for Alex, Schachter’s local non-profit organization. Schachter hopes it can make a difference nationally, too.
“After 9/11, they made the airports safe, but it’s been 20 years since Columbine almost and we still have school shootings,” Schachter said. “The expertise is there, but the problem is there’s not best practices nationally, so that’s what I have been on a mission to create.”
Dallas kicks off against the Saints on Thursday at 8:20 p.m. in Arlington, Texas. Hurns, who was born in Miami, played for the Hurricanes from 2010-2013.