26 Angels Tournament: How one B.A.S.S. family in Newtown will turn horror into hope

A flag flies in Newtown

About the author

Don Barone

Don Barone

db has been in the reporting biz for over 30 years, won some Emmys and other awards, but is proudest of his four-decade marriage, his two kids and the fact he founded Tackle The Storm Foundation to help children.

“Someday at Christmas

There'll be no wars…

Dateline: Newtown, CT

As we talked,

I cried.

“I don’t want it to be about the horrors, I don’t want it to be a blow by blow of that day, I don’t want to have to relive it…”

I could only listen, watch tears drip from the phone.

“I haven’t talked to any reporter about it Don…”

“Natalie, there’s no need to dredge up all the details…reasonable people get what happened…it’s up to you…can I write about what you want to do…”

I didn’t say anything else, I coughed, sniffed a bit, and gave Natalie her time…she would make the call on this story not me.  I could hear her breathe, she could hear me…


came softly on a breath.

And it took my breath away.

“when we have learned

…what Christmas is for…”

If I’m faced with writing another story like this, it will be the last story I ever write.

I am wrung out, dried up.


Skin on a frame, not much left inside.

I’m stuck in a bad movie, and the exit doors are locked…

“Don…everyone who stayed in the front office survived…I ran out into the hall with the Principal and the school psychologist.”

Natalie is…Natalie Hammond, Lead Teacher at Sandy Hook School, Newtown, CT.

Wife of Connecticut B.A.S.S Federation Nation member, Jerry Hammond.

I know Jerry, have sat with him at events.

Met Natalie.

These aren’t faces in the newspaper…these aren’t people labeled, “them” or “they,” it’s Jerry for goodness sakes.

“He shot my wife three times db.”

It’s a bad movie…I’m chained to the seat…

Natalie, stood face to face with the gunman of the Sandy Hook School.

The two people she stood there with where shot.

Natalie survived.

Her co-workers, and friends…did not.

Natalie had been a Third Grade Teacher at the school for more than a decade, just moved up to lead teacher, was in the front office when the unimaginable came through the door.

Out of respect for Natalie.

Out of respect for the victims.

Out of respect for all those who know of the horror and don’t need to keep reliving it.

That’s enough…that’s just freakin’ enough of the details.

Others will report it, I’m sure.

And theirs will come…30 years from now…seatbelt locked in the Horror Show that never ends.

You wait media dudes…you’ll see.


“…when we have learned

what Christmas is for…”

Natalie is barely out of the hospital…faces months of rehab and recuperation.

The Friday of the horror was also her 12 year old daughter’s birthday.

Jerry, spends much of his time going from wake to wake, funeral to funeral.

Today the Governor of Connecticut, Dannel P. Malloy, declared it a day of mourning and that at 9:30am there be a moment of silence…and that throughout the state churches and public offices with bells ring the bells 26 times for those lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Instead of silence, I opted for a moment of screams.

Alone in the backyard, against a sideways rain I stood facing the wind and asked, “why,” and then shouted, “stop,”

and as the rain ran down my face, ran down my throat, whispered, “please…stop…

…the killing.”

“db…Natalie wants to call it the 26 Angels foundation.”