updated 7/21/2004 12:41:41 AM ET 2004-07-21T04:41:41

Former President Clinton met with survivors and families of victims of the Columbine High School massacre Tuesday night, vowing to help them raise the $2.5 million for a memorial to the 12 students and a teacher who died.

Clinton spoke at a hotel gala that was expected to raise more than $300,000.

“He actually instigated the idea for (the memorial) a couple of years ago,” said Brian Rohrbough, whose son, Danny, died at Columbine.

“I think it’s nice that he remembers us,” said Mark Taylor, who was among the 23 students wounded on April 20, 1999, by two fellow students who then killed themselves.

Clinton told the victims and their families: “I’m really proud of you. I’ll help you raise the rest of the money. That’s the least I can do.” Earlier he met privately with victims and their families.

The former president was in Denver to promote his book, “My Life,” and volunteered to speak at the fund raiser.

“It’s phenomenal. I’m really honored that President Clinton is here again to help Columbine High School. I know it will help us in the healing process,” said Frank DeAngelis, Columbine principal.

Tickets for the fund raiser were $250 and donations of up to $50,000 were expected.

It was the third time Clinton has come to Colorado because of Columbine. He met with survivors a month after students Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris launched their attack. He also called several victims in local hospitals. He later returned to campaign for gun control.

“You have no idea how many nights and days Hillary and I have relived our trip to Columbine, the people we saw, the things they said,” he told an audience of more than 400 Tuesday night.

The memorial would cover one acre on a hill above the school. Enclosed within 12-foot-high walls would be a ring of remembrance with tributes written by the victims’ families. Water running over the walls would mute surrounding noise.

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