I met Azel almost three years ago when we he first started at the school. He was a big, burly guy, who was, admittedly, scary looking. Underneath that huge exterior, he was the gentlest, kindest person you could meet. My fondest memories are teasing him about his favorite football team, The Detroit Lions, every fall and winter, and how there was no way they would ever be better than my Minnesota Vikings. We would go back and forth with another therapist, who happened to be a Packers fan, about our Fantasy Leagues, and how he could dare show up on a Friday afternoon wearing Lion’s gear when my son was going to cheer for the Vikings.
He was a father, a son, a brother, a friend, a mentor, and a person. His life matters.
What the media and police don’t know about Azel was that he was a father, a son, a brother, a friend, a mentor, and a person. His life matters. He volunteered time and energy to Special Olympics. He built a technical lab at my son’s school, and he helped teach the kids life skills. On Friday and Saturday, he was at work during parent training, watching students and their siblings. My daughter loved him, because she liked playing in the gym and he gave her Skittles whenever she asked for them.
I don’t know if the people who did this will ever read this, or if they even have the comprehension skills to read, but I want to know why. What filled your heart with so much hate that you would take this person from the Earth? What did he ever do to you to make you want to beat the life out of him? What was so offensive and disrespectful to you that you couldn’t handle it like a human being? Why? Was it because he was black? Did he cut you off in line? Did he owe you money? What made you decide to deprive so many people of someone so special? That I cannot explain.
Please pray for Azel Hardy, the Hardy family, the therapists and teachers at Emerald Coast Autism Center in Niceville, FL, and the students who were touched by Azel Hardy in Niceville and throughout the world. A GoFundMe page has been created to collect donations for the Hardy family during this trying time.
Many Kind Regards,
Explaining death to a child and explaining the death of a child are heartbreaking moments. Creator Erin tackles the difficulties of the death of a child in this article.
Original image credit: Christopher Sessums