The Rebels Project (TRP), was initially the community outreach branch of the non-profit Phoenix999. They were both formed by Columbine survivors in the wake of the Aurora theater shooting in 2012 to help provide support for people who had experienced a similar trauma. TRP and Phoenix999 have now merged into one non-profit.
TRP is a growing organization managed by volunteers. We have no paid staff and very little overhead. All TRP events and activities are organized, managed, and conducted by survivors who generously volunteer their time and talents
Heather (Egeland) Martin
Heather (Egeland) Martin
Heather was a senior at Columbine High School when the shootings occurred in April of 1999.
She graduated a month after and as years passed, she still felt lost and unsupported. With nowhere to turn for help, she suffered from major anxiety attacks that she couldn’t explain. Refusing to believe they were a result of her experiences from years before, Heather did everything she could to not venture from her comfort zones including not going away to college and refusing out of state job offers. Unfortunately, the comforts of home still couldn't shield her from the never ending news of one mass shooting after another. And every one of them triggered feelings of helplessness. However, it wasn't until after the Aurora theater shooting in 2012 that Heather decided that she had had enough and had to do something to help. On July 23, 2012, with the partnership of Jennifer Hammer, The Rebels Project was formed. After the first meeting, it was clear that there was a strong need for resources to help those newly impacted by mass tragedy as well as for those still struggling with the residual trauma from years before. Ever since the first meeting, The Rebels Project has expanded its outreach efforts and its members, including Heather, have traveled to meet survivors from Newtown, Virginia Tech, the Washington Navy Yard shooting, and the Azana Spa shooting. In addition to Co-founding The Rebels Project, Heather is also the Director of Community Outreach for Phoenix 999, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting survivors in ways that only other survivors can understand.
Today, Heather is an English teacher at an Aurora Public Schools high school. She loves her students, listening to Bruce Springsteen (and forcing her students to listen to him), reading Young Adult literature and the Harry Potter series, and finds teaching to be incredibly rewarding. She lives in Colorado with her sweet rescue pup named Hazie and her wonderful husband, Shaun.
Missy is a Colorado native and a 2002 graduate from Columbine High School. She was 14 years old and sitting in math class on April 20, 1999 when the shooting occurred. After the shooting, Missy struggled with insomnia and continues to battle it, especially after she has been triggered. Following graduation, Missy moved to her father’s home state of New Jersey where she lived for 11 years. Her favorite part about Jersey was the the salty air and waking up to the sounds of the ocean - she claims dreams are made of such things. Even though she was in Jersey, she longed to help with The Rebels Project’s efforts and participated in every way she could from afar. As the years passed she felt the call of the mountains, along with the call of love. She moved back to Colorado in 2014 where she moved in with her boyfriend and was finally able to attend a Rebels Project meeting in person. Missy learned that helping others was something she felt compelled to do. She approached Heather and offered to help. Giving back to a community that had given her so much and was her new calling. She loves the support The Rebels Project provides and holds their beliefs close to her heart. She found that helping others helped her too. Today, she happily lives with her love and two black labs.
Amy was a senior the year of the shootings at Columbine. She was in the cafeteria when the shootings started and she ran to a nearby house. While in high school, she played basketball and ran track; Dave Sanders, the teacher who was murdered, was her coach. Because she did not know how to cope with her survivor’s guilt, her emotions manifested in anger, which continued for many years until she found an outlet – anything physical. She started boxing, kickboxing, running, and working out to help manage her emotions. In addition to talk therapy and EMDR, she also has a wonderfully supportive husband and family. Amy got involved with The Rebels Project after finishing bachelor’s degree and taking several mental health classes. She felt it was her calling to share her story and support others. Currently, she is the Director of Fundraising for The Rebels Project. Today, she lives in Parker, Colorado with her husband, Curtis, two wonderful children, and their boxer Callie.
Sherrie Lawson survived the Washington Navy Yard shooting that occurred on September 16, 2013. While running from the shooter she scaled an 8 foot brick wall to escape along with dozens of coworkers. She lost twelve coworkers in the attack. She knew three of the victims and was working on projects with two of the victims. Shortly after this tragic event she was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, and severe anxiety. In her healing journey she became passionate about supporting others that are suffering from the “invisible wounds’ of trauma. TRP has been a key factor in her road to recovery and she wants to share this gift with others that may be suffering from mass trauma.
She currently serves as Director of Development for The Rebels Project. She joined The Rebels Project in 2014 and began working with TRP in an official capacity in 2016. Sherrie holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership. At the time of the Washington Navy Yard shooting she was an elected official in Washington, DC and a doctoral candidate in a Leadership and Organizational Change program. Sherrie is excited to use her education and experience to help grow TRP. She has relocated to Colorado to become even more involved in the TRP mission of providing support for other survivors. She lives in Denver with her rescue kitty, Jax.
Zachary (Zach) Cartaya
Zach is a Columbine survivor and serves as the Director of Finance for The Rebels Project and is the Chief Financial Officer for Phoenix 999. Since Columbine, Zach has dedicated his life to helping people through public service. Zach’s Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees are in Political Science and he worked for the State of Colorado for five years. In his time with the State, Zach worked to secure funding to aid homeless communities and underprivileged and disabled children. In any work Zach does, he hopes to make the world a better place.