RMN- Columbine's Castaldo jamming for E. Timor
Donald L Ferry
Jan 16, 2001 07:10 PST
Columbine's Castaldo jamming for E. Timor
By Diane Carman
Denver Post Columnist
Jan. 16, 2001 - Richard Castaldo tipped back in a wheelie, carefully turned
his chair around and cruised the room. The Columbine High School graduate is
beginning to reap the benefits of a year and a half of surgeries and
physical therapy. He's moving under his own power.
He also plays keyboards in a band and plans to attend Arapahoe Community
College soon. But on this day it's not about him. Castaldo wants to mobilize
the same spirit that got him through the tough times to help those less
fortunate. "We all need to care for each other," he said barely audibly into
A handful of reporters and photographers had come to the news conference
with Castaldo and other representatives of PeaceJam, the youth organization
that promotes understanding around the world.
They were announcing an eight-week drive to collect school supplies to help
the young people of war-ravaged East Timor.
"What happens in one country affects everyone all over the world," Castaldo
It's a philosophy he's had since long before April 20, 1999. Castaldo
attended a PeaceJam conference at Regis University in 1997 when the Dalai
Lama was there. Then, when he was in the hospital recovering from eight
bullet wounds he suffered in the Columbine shootings, Jose Ramos-Horta, the
1996 Nobel Peace Laureate from East Timor, visited him.
"I learned that to have friends you must be a friend."
His hair is long and curly now. His arms are strong. Castaldo is a reluctant
celebrity, but he knows he can command attention. This time he wants to put
that power to good use for a friend. Ramos-Horta's people need help.
Ivan Suvanjieff, president of PeaceJam, traveled to East Timor, "the world's
newest democracy," and said he was stunned by the devastation. The struggle
for independence from Indonesia left few buildings standing. Children have
been unable to attend school and an undercurrent of despair runs through the
Castaldo said the youth of East Timor need books, paper, pencils, chalk -
everything. They need money to put roofs on the damaged school buildings.
They could use some soccer balls, solar-powered calculators, notebooks.
His band, Zebra Junction, will perform at the Feb. 24 PeaceJam conference at
Regis where Argentinian Adolfo Perez Esquivel, winner of the 1980 Nobel
Peace Prize, will appear. And other students, including Shannon and Shelby
Myers from Columbine, are working to rally support for the cause.
"I'm trying to help people in another country who really need help. It's a
good thing for everyone to do. It's important," said Castaldo.
He casts his dark eyes down at the table and rolls his wheelchair back a few
inches. There's nothing more to tell.
Just being here says it all.
To contribute to PeaceJam Educational Relief for East Timor, send checks to
PERFET, 2427 W. Argyle Place, Denver, CO 80211. Educational supplies should
be sent to PERFET, c/o the community.com, 3212 Jefferson St., #217, Napa, CA