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Columbine bears headed for space

By Ann Schrader
Denver Post Medical/Science Writers

Jan. 26 - A tiny white stuffed bear with a "We Are ... Columbine" T-shirt is in for an out-of-this-world experience beginning next week.

The Columbine bear is scheduled to ride along when the space shuttle Endeavor blasts off Monday. After the 11-day mission, the bear will be presented to Columbine High.

Stephanie Munson, a Columbine senior, and her family thought up the bear in the months after last April's shootings and decided to offer them for sale.

Munson, who was shot in the ankle as she fled the high school, said a portion of the proceeds from selling the bears will go to the Columbine students who suffered brain and spinal-cord injuries in the tragedy.

To see that the bear gets a good sendoff, Munson and members of her family are traveling today to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to watch the launch.

"A couple of months ago, we got a letter from one of the shuttle astronauts inviting us to come and see the launch," Munson said. Other Columbine victims also were invited.

It was a small leap from there to getting the bear on board, she said, after she let NASA officials know about the project.

Munson said NASA has provided VIP passes for the 10:47 a.m. MST liftoff, and the Columbine folks will pay their own way.

"I've never seen the space center or a launch, so this will be fun," Munson said.

Munson; her father, Larry; sisters Jennifer, Stacy and Lauren; brother Larry III; an uncle; and her grandfather plan to spend a week in Florida.

Jennifer Munson, 14, also was in the Columbine cafeteria during the rampage. She wrote a poem that is attached to the stuffed bears.

"We'll never forget that one sad day, So many dreams flew away. A day of tragedy, a day of loss. A day of uniting, far and near." Information on the Columbine bears is available at Kids Kreations, 303-933-1099.

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