Mitchell Dworet and Melissa Willey have never met and don’t have much in common. Dworet, whom everyone calls Mitch, is an outgoing real estate agent from a busy part of Florida; Willey is a reserved stay-at-home mother of nine from a small town in southern Maryland. But one thing unites them: both had kids on a high school swim team, and now both of those kids are dead.
Dworet’s 17-year-old son Nicholas was killed during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in February. Soon after, some parents of other children who had been victims of gun violence contacted Dworet, offering him support, guidance and understanding. A month later, 1,000 miles north in Maryland, Willey’s daughter Jaelynn, 16, was shot to death by a fellow student at Great Mills High School. When Dworet heard about it, he contacted Willey on Facebook. “I felt like I should reach out,” he says. “I wanted to pay it forward.”
Read the full cover story here.