I received the following text from my son at 5:55 p.m. on Tuesday, April 30: “Hey mom no panic there’s been reports of shots on campus I’m safe so don’t freak out.” You can only imagine the flood of emotions I had. I soon learned my son was on his bike outside Kennedy Hall when the shooting at UNC-Charlotte occurred. I learned on May 3 that another Wilkes County student was in the building when the shooting occurred. Additionally, several other kids from Wilkes who attend UNC-Charlotte were in various places around campus.

I am so thankful that all of our children are safe. When you send your children off to school or college, you try to prepare them for what they might encounter and the way you want them to behave or handle difficult situations. You never imagine that they might be facing this type of danger.

I believe my children were blessed to grow up in a safe environment here in Wilkes County, but the reality of this tragedy shakes you to the core. I am eternally grateful to Riley Howell for his sacrifice that saved so many. (Howell is a UNC-Charlotte student who died from a gunshot but is credited with saving lives by tackling the gunman in Kennedy Hall.) I pray for the parents of all the kids who were killed and injured.

Remember that your children are a blessing. Hug them, and tell them you love them. You never know what your next text might be.

DEANA BILLINGS,

North Wilkesboro, N.C.

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