Nightly News   |  December 13, 2013

Newtown families turn grief into advocacy

December 14 marks one year since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, and some parents who lost their children that day are speaking out, aiming to make changes with the organization Sandy Hook Promise. NBC’s Kate Snow reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> as we said at the top of the broadcast tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of the newtown shooting. the lives of 26 families were changed forever when a gunman entered sandy hook elementary school . that community asked for privacy on this an seniversary. we are going to abide by that. there are families who want to speak out to ensure we remember what happened, who their loved ones were and what they are doing to make change. several weeks ago our national correspondent kate snow talked with one newtown family.

>> reporter: it's memories like these that have made it hard for mark barden, a professional musician to get back on stage after losing his son daniel .

>> every minute that passes we are a minute further from life with daniel . that's hard to deal with.

>> reporter: he was a kind-hearted 7-year-old who wanted to be a fireman. so a year ago firefighters turned out by the hundreds to the line his funeral route.

>> there is a saying that time heals . have you found that? .

>> i still find myself trying to will this all into a dream. trying to wish it was not real.

>> the amount of support is overwhelming.

>> reporter: their living room is overflowing with gifts from strangers, but it doesn't take away the longing.

>> i guess i really miss his cuddles. he was really affectionate. i remember the night before on december 13th , getting into bed with him. we would read every night. i haven't read a book out loud since.

>> reporter: the bar dens channelled their grief into advocacy, prompted in part by daniel 's siblings.

>> james and natalie had questions. how could this happen? why did this happen? we didn't have answers. james just said, i hope this never happens to any other family ever again.

>> reporter: many newtown families felt the same way. they traveled to washington and state houses around the country. michelle hockley shows lawmakers a photo of her son dylan.

>> this is not a mass number of people. this is about my child, dylan. it is about your wife, your friend. it affects all of us.

>> reporter: last spring they lobbied for an expansion of background checks on gun buyers.

>> we return home with determination that change will happen. maybe not today, but it will happen.

>> reporter: in january, jackie will go back to work part time at the school where she used the to teach where she'll have to read aloud again. and mark? he just recently started playing music again.

>> reporter: his full-time gig is with the advocacy group , sandy hook promise.

>> if we can honor daniel 's life, do some of the good he would have undoubtedly done in his life. if we can do some of that for him, we have no choice not to.

>> reporter: to mark one year, the families would like us all to perform a simple act of kindness. many set up foundations in honor of their loved ones . you can find more information on your website.

>> boy, it doesn't get any