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Q & A with Stacie Payne
Local & National News | May 05, 2020
Founder of Justice for Cameron Inc. tells us what it was like to lose a son.

*Give us a few memories from Cam growing up that still bring a smile    when you think about them.*

*There are so many wonderful memories of Cameron growing up. I can remember the first bath he was given in the little baby tub. I remember getting on my knees each night with him as a little boy to say our prayers. All of a sudden he was able to say the Lord's Prayer on his own. I remember his first day of Pre-K, Kindergarten, first, second, and every grade thereafter. I remember the white Easter suits and Easter speeches. I can remember the many days of football and track practice and games/meets that followed every weekend. I remember he'd always say I love you and the kiss on my cheeks. I remember his Senior prom which was 6 years ago. Cameron had it all figured out...his suit, shoes, and the car he wanted to drive. Seems like we took a million pictures that night. These are just a few memories that make me smile when I think of them. *

   - *We will also use some content from your mission page*

   - Tell me about the day of his death.  How did you find out?  What do    you know about the event that took his life. *Cameron's life was taken    Thursday, October 22, 2015. I remember this day as if it was yesterday. I'd    come home from celebrating breast cancer awareness month and celebrating    being a 5 year survivor. Laying in bed with pleasant thoughts on mind, I    heard my phone ringing. I didn't have a good feeling when I answered the    phone as it was so late for anyone to be calling. I received the    devastating news that Cameron had been shot and killed. All I could do was    pray that this was a mistake and he was alright. With emotions all over the    place and uncontrollable tears we jumped in the car and drove to Nashville,    my phone was steady ringing. *

*We arrived to Nashville early morning, talked to the detective and later identified Cameron on a picture.*

* (If you'd like I can share a news article or the news clip. I am finding myself getting a little emotional right now as I think about the event and the guys that took his life. They were originally charged and because our key witness changed her story, they were released before trial. The prosecutor didn't want the judge to throw the case out because we would have gone in Double Jeopardy. The case is still open as we wait on someone to have courage to testify. It's not a cold case, rather an open case. The detectives and prosecutors know who killed him but lack a witness to testify. This takes me to my other message for our youth, "See Something Say Something".*

   - *Describe his funeral for us and your emotions on that day *

   - *Talk about life for you and your family after his death*

*I am learning to live this "new normal". Not a day goes by that I don't think of him. I often feel like I eat, breathe, wake, and sleep thinking about Cameron. I miss my son. My younger son misses his best friend. We all miss him dearly. *
*I've met many mothers and fathers who have experienced this same pain. My life will NEVER be the same. *

   - *Tell us about the start of your non profit organization*

The nonprofit organization started out as family and friends simply seeking " Justice for Cameron". We started by speaking with detectives and others in Nashville because we desperately desired to have answers and someone held accountable for taking Cameron's life. We'd travel to Nashville often to pass out flyers and attend candlelight/prayer vigils. What started off as a mission to find Cameron's killer turned out to be so much more. We realized there was something else we needed to do to help others while also keeping Cameron's memory alive.  .

   - *What was your goal with your organization? *Our goal is to provide    support for the families and communities of the victims of gun violence    through education, prevention, advocacy, and awareness. I understand that    we won't be able to reach everyone. However, if one person's life is saved    and if we've helped one mother/family, then Cameron didn't die in vain.

   - *What impact have you had so far?*

I feel that we've sparked conversations in many youth as they are talking about the gun violence epidemic in our city and highlighting ways they can become a champion. So far, we've been able to award 19 students (including the class of 2020) with scholarships totaling $18,000. I also feel that we've impacted the communities where we've held events since 2016. Whether our message has been "Silencing the Violence" or "See Something Say Something", I pray that we've reached the hearts of many. I also pray that we've been able to encourage other mothers and families to be a voice for their loved one and to keep going.

   - *What would you like to see for your organization in the future *

I would like for Justice for Cameron Inc to do more outreach in the schools. Many times it's difficult to get a positive message out when many times the ones that need to hear it don't attend. If we're able to partner with schools, we could reach many more. Our "CAMpaign" doesn't have to stop in Memphis. We are willing to partner with others in our efforts to help others and spread this message nationwide.

 

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