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Dedicated to the Sandy Hook Elementary School Tragedy
26 Victims: 20 Children and 6 Newtown School District Staff Members.
The theme, "Enough is Enough."

Jack Pinto Clinic

May 10-11, 2013: The Jack Pinto Wrestling Clinic was a tremendous success. The two-day event (Easton and Newtown) raised $4,000 with more donations expected. All proceeds went to the Jack Pinto Foundation (Jack was a 6th year old wrestler who sadly passed away during the Sandy Hook Tragedy in December 2012). I sincerely thank Terry Brands (Iowa) and Coach Steve Powell (Easton, PA) for donating their time along with everyone else. These two icons of wrestling are fantastic examples for young people to follow. Coach Terry Brands: 2x World Champion, 2000 Bronze Medalist, 2x NCAA Champion and 135 National Career Wins. Coach Steve Powell: 37 HS Coach Years, over 480 wins. And 19 Pa. HS State Champions to the Newtown Wrestling Programs and Community. WE did it ALL for the right reasons. To support and help make the Newtown Community "strong." I thank everyone for making this event very special and rewarding. The Jack Pinto Clinic was sponsored by CWWCF.org and has 50I(c)3 IRS status. With God's Grace...

Donn with 2 Newtown Wresting Clinic participants

On December 22, 2012: I wish to share with everyone the following: A time to reflect, "Sounds Of Silence." My experiences of visiting Sandy Hook Newtown, CT.

Four days prior, I setup my contacts in Sandy Hook, Newtown, CT. I do not think people realize that Sandy Hook is a small town and many people may only think of them as Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Jack Pinto Clinic Member
taking High Single Leg
on 2x World Champion

The night before and morning of December 22, I could not sleep. My mind was racing a 1000 miles a minute, and thoughts seemed to be going nowhere. I was preparing myself through meditation and prayer. I got up at 5 am and was out of the house by 6. Mentally, during the three hour drive, I was trying to prepare myself for the unexpected. My anxiety grew greater when I got on Connecticut Interstate 84 at Exit 1, knowing that I had to get off at Exit 10 for Sandy Hook. As I approached Exit 10, the Sandy Hook victim signs started to appear. Right before the exit, there was a memorial of 26 small and one large American flag. Exiting the highway north toward Sandy Hook, I read more victim signs and my sadness grew. There were too many Sandy Hook victim signs to count.

I could see people praying and leaving something in remembrance as I drove into the small Sandy Hook town, where the center of the memorials stood. These memorials were widely-publicized by the media (CNN, CBS NBC).

Around 9:15 am, I met Chris Manfredi, Newtown Children's Cancer Foundation and President of Newtown Youth Association. We had breakfast at the diner, and I presented him with $1,000 check (from our own CWWCF.org), for two children from the Sandy Hook School that have cancer. A small consolation for what their community is experiencing.

Terry signing autograph

While we were having our cordial conversation, it was noticeable that parents were clutching onto their children's hands a little tighter. As expected, the mood at the diner was very somber. We talked for approximately an hour and he expressed his thankfulness. I remember saying, "anything I can do to help." We both agreed, it was time for the TV and news media to leave. Sandy Hook needs private time to start their healing process. At times, I found Mr. Manfredi at a loss for words. He knows the town needs to recover with a different definition of "normal" and he's a man who has the Newtown communities best interest at heart. He has my unlimited respect.

After meeting with Mr. Manfredi, I would drive to the school where the Newtown Wrestling Team was competing. While traveling the 20-minute drive, traffic would come to a stop at times, would again proceed slowly, and repeat itself. Upon seeing the church where one of the final victims ceremonies was taking place, my heart dropped and a chill came down my back. Along the way, more signs, "Pray for Sandy Hook Victims."

The rest of my day was spent with the Newtown Wrestling Team and where they were competing. Coach Dan McIllrath, was very receptive of me being there. But at the same time, I could see his mind was in another place. "Sounds Of Silence."

Coach McIllrath gave me the opportunity to talk to the team. The rest of my day was spent with the Newtown Wrestling Team, critiquing their performance. I gave them autographed posters of Dan Gable, plus they received a copy of my 1972-1976 Olympic DVD (when Dan Gable competed) and my instructional DVD. They were grateful, and I found myself wishing I could do more. I promised them that I would be back.

Terry Brands and his son Nelson at Jack Pinto Clinic

At the wrestling meet, I had the honor of meeting Coach Chris Bray, the Newtown Youth Wrestling Coach. He is a class act that exemplifies any wrestling community. After my January 4-7 visit to Iowa I am going to return and be more productive to the Newtown Wrestling Community.

This year, my Christmas Tree had 26 memorial balls hanging from its branches, 20 grey balls representing the children, and 6 blue representing the teachers and staff members. I plan to do the same in 2013.

In May, I will be doing a Wrestling Clinic for the Sandy Hook School tragedy and it will be called, The Jack Pinto Wrestling Clinic in memory of the 6-year-old wrestler. Jack was a member of Coach Bray's Wrestling Youth Team. All proceeds will go to the Sandy Hook Community. Eventually, The Pinto Family will reach out to me. What can I ever say to relieve their pain? "Sounds Of Silence."

Already, some top elite coaches have contacted me. I promise that no one will be paid for their services. All proceeds will go to the Sandy Hook victim's parents.

A story from one classroom: 14 of 15 students were killed, one little girl played possum and survived. To think of what she witnessed, a life-long horrifying memory. Along with the others, like in Ms. Soto's classroom, she hid as many as she could in her classroom closet before sacrificing her own life. Six of her children died while nine other children were saved. Again, a time to reflect. "Sounds Of Silence."

Newtown wrestler sharing
the moment with Donn
Upon leaving and driving home, I had more time to reflect: thinking, wishing, and wanting do more. I just kept thinking about returning. I can never relieve their pain, my presence can only distract it for a short time, maybe buying them some time to get stronger. This is not a bad headache that will go away, this is horrible event that will never go away. Frustrated, and with no answers to comprehend, I drove back home in Pennsylvania, with my mind speeding again, and thinking of what can I do. One thing is certain, I will NOT abandoned the Sandy Hook, Newtown, CT community and their healing process. God is telling me, "This is your 'calling'." One comment made to me by a Newtown Wrestling Team Member will last forever, "Everyone's SUPPORT gives us the STRENGTH to become STRONGER."

Finally, having taught in the inner city for 18 years and experiencing 8-9 kids dead and 8-9 shooters, and 33 years in education. Again "Sounds Of Silence." Shortly before I retired from teaching, one of my former fifteen-year-old student had a gun, and another student approached him with a gun. MY FORMER STUDENT LOST, he did not have any bullets in his gun, DEAD!!!

My Facebook wall of SANDY HOOK, NEWTOWN, CT and the ribbon logo currently has 75 supporters. "Enough is Enough."

With God's Grace.... and Sounds of Silence Continues.

Donn Ernst
1976 AAU/USA Olympic Wrestling Staff Member

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Donn Ernst
1100 Cornwallis Drive
Easton, PA 18040
Phone: 610-438-3514