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7/20 Memorial Foundation to host series of events to mark 10 years since Aurora theater shooting

"Metamorphosis" will be theme of July 23 program
Alex Teves, AJ Boik, Alex Sullivan, Gordon Cowden, Jesse Childress, Jessica Ghawi, John Larimer, Jonathan Blunk, Veronica Moser-Sullivan, Rebecca Wingo, Micayla Medek, Matt McQuinn.
Posted at 12:43 PM, Jul 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-20 09:03:13-04

DENVER – The 7/20 Memorial Foundation is holding a series of events – with the theme of “metamorphosis” – to mark 10 years since 12 people were killed and 70 more were injured in a shooting at the Century 16 theater in Aurora on July 20, 2012.

The annual midnight vigil at the Aurora Water-wise Garden, outside of the municipal center, will start at 11:59 p.m. on July 19 with a candlelight vigil. The garden space and white-cross memorial will open starting at 8 p.m. July 19 and will stay open until 5 p.m. on July 24. The foundation will stream the program on its website and Facebook page.

The next events will be held Saturday, July 23 in a day-long program the foundation is calling “Metamorphosis Aurora Theater Shooting 10 Years Later.”

“This all-day community event is designed to honor the lives lost and forever changed by the tragedy of the events on July 20, 2012, while also celebrating the community and strength of Aurora. It is a day of healing and sharing,” the foundation said in describing the program.

7/20 Memorial Foundation to host series of events to mark 10 years since Aurora theater shooting

The day will start with a Heroes Run 5K starting at 9 a.m. whose proceeds will go toward an athletic scholarship for a student in Aurora Public Schools. It is organized by Zack Golditch, a Gateway High School graduate who attended CSU and played in the NFL. He survived the theater shooting and is now a South Metro firefighter.

People can click here to sign up for the 5K run.

The Reflection Ceremony will start at 1:30 p.m., organized by Becky Hogan. The victims’ names will be read, and the Aurora Singers and Sister Felicia Burton will perform in honor of the first responders.

Other speakers include interim Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates, who was chief at the time of the shooting, former City Manager Skip Noe, U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper, Theresa Hoover, the mother of A.J. Boik, and Joshua Nowlan, who was injured in the shooting.

Parents of Aurora theater shooting victim travel to communities impacted by tragedy

The community event will start at 3 p.m., with wellness booth, lawn games, children’s activities, and a beer garden from 3-7 p.m. that will feature 25 local breweries. The event will be free, but wristbands for the beer garden will be $40 ahead of time and $45 at the event. Donations will go toward upkeeping the memorial sculpture and toward the foundation.

There will also be food trucks at the event, and more than 25 chalk artists will be drawing in the memorial garden throughout the afternoon. People will be able to record their memories at a memory tent that will be on scene. Two bands – Brushfire and Latin Sol – between 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

An immersive 40-minute audio/visual event called Metamorphosis will start at 7:20 p.m., designed by Renee Leon, and featuring music from the Stratus Chamber Orchestra and dancers from LifeArt, a spoken word piece from Aurora Poet Laureate Assetou Xango, and video to accompany the music and spoken word.

“This piece moves through the horror of the night of the shooting, through the ups and downs of the past 10 years and ends with hope for a more peaceful and loving future,” the foundation said.

People can also donate to the foundation by clicking here.

These are the lives lost we continue to remember today:

AJ (Alexander) Boik . AJ had just graduated from Gateway High School where he played baseball, said a family friend. Boik had planned on attending the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in the fall. His dream was to become an art teacher and open his own studio, his family said.

Jonathan Blunk . The father of two served three tours in the Persian Gulf and North Arabian Sea between 2004 and 2009, close friend James Gill of Brighton, Colo., told the Associated Press. He had high hopes for his future, with plans to re-enlist in the Navy and the goal of becoming a Navy SEAL. He died in the shooting after he pushed his girlfriend Jansen Young under the theater seat, saving her life.

Jesse Childress , 29, was a Staff Sergeant at Buckley Air Force Base and worked as a cyber-systems operator. Friends said he spent nearly every day of the week playing sports -- softball on Mondays, bowling on Tuesdays, reported the Denver Post. Childress loved comics and superhero movies. He had recently bought a black Scion -- a car he nicknamed the "Batmobile."

Gordon Cowden loved life and his family. He went to the midnight movie premiere with his two teenage children. The father of four lived in Aurora, but was described as a "true Texas gentleman" in a family statement. He loved the outdoors and owned his own business. Cowden's teenage children escaped the shooting unharmed.

John Larimer was a Navy sailor based at Buckley Air Force Base, where he was a cryptologic technician -- a job that the Navy says on its website should be filled by someone with "exceptionally good character, above-average writing and speaking skills, a good memory, curiosity and resourcefulness." Those who knew him described him in similar terms.

Micayla Medek , 23, was saving money for a trip to India. She was working at Subway and attended Aurora Community College. Her father, Greg Medek, told the Los Angeles Times that Micayla loved Hello Kitty, hot pink and Beanie Babies. At her funeral service, mourners wore pink ribbons, some with Hello Kitty faces on them, in honor of her fondness for the color and the character.

Matt McQuinn died trying to protect his girlfriend. As the gunman opened fire, McQuinn dove on top of Samantha Yowler. McQuinn's stepfather, David Jackson, told the Dayton Daily News that McQuinn was a hero. Yowler was injured in the leg, a family spokesman said. McQuinn, a 27-year-old Ohio native, had moved to Colorado just a few months earlier.

Jessica Ghawi was a journalist and blogger who also went by the name Jessica Redfield. Ghawi had recently moved to Denver from San Antonio, Texas, to pursue her dream of becoming a sportscaster. "She had a huge heart," Ghawi's mother, Sandy Phillips said. "Cared deeply for other people." A few months earlier, Ghawi was visiting Toronto with her boyfriend, a minor league hockey player, when they narrowly escaped a deadly shooting in the city's main downtown mall.

Veronica Moser Sullivan, 6, went to see the Batman movie with her mother, Ashley Moser, 25. Veronica died from her injuries. Ashley was left in critical condition, with gunshot wounds to her neck and abdomen. She was paralyzed below the waist. "(Veronica was) a vibrant little girl ... just was bragging about learning how to swim on Tuesday," Annie Dalton, Ashley's aunt said.

Alex Sullivan was at the midnight showing of the new Batman movie as part of his birthday celebration. "#TheDarkKnightRises OMG COUNTING down till it start can't wait going to be the best birthday ever," Sullivan wrote on Facebook. His family called him "their real life super hero. Alex was smart, funny and above all loved dearly by his friends and family," the family statement said.

Alex Teves , 24, was originally from Arizona, but was living in the Denver area, after graduating from the University of Denver. Teves' father, Tom Teves, told ABC News that his son had blocked his girlfriend from a bullet when he was himself shot and killed. His father said Alex would do anything to save his girlfriend.

Rebecca Ann Wingo , 32, was a devoted mother, who always sat on the front row at church. Shannon Dominguez, who worked with Wingo on weekends, said she was friendly with everyone and always seemed to be in a good mood. "She had a really bubbly personality," Dominguez said. "She was a pretty happy person. She just never really seemed ... like with work, she never got irritated. She was pretty happy to be here."

The gunman is serving life in prison.