10 YEARS— Theater shooting survivor plans to change more lives with scholarship

(The Aurora Sentinel) – Ten years ago, the trajectory of Zack Golditch’s life took a turn.

Now, the Aurora Theater shooting survivor hopes to positively change the path of another Aurora Public Schools student with a life-changing scholarship.

The first Hero’s Journey 5K race on July 23 will run through Aurora to the 7/20 Memorial Reflection Garden and will fund a scholarship for an Aurora Public Schools student culminating in a Golditch Dream – who graduated from Gateway High School one year after the tragedy – has had for a long time.

“My life changed that night and I hope this scholarship can change another student’s life for the better,” Golditch, 27, told The Sentinel.

Golditch – then 17 – was attending the premiere of “Dark Night Rising” at the theater with his sister and some Gateway classmates when a stray bullet from the attack in an adjacent theater stabbed through his neck. It happened during an action sequence in the movie, so Golditch thought someone had set off a firecracker in the theater and he was hit by a spark.

He rushed outside to find a chaotic scene and was taken to hospital immediately after the shooting and gained a deep appreciation for the courage of the first responders he witnessed.

As tragedy changed him on the inside, Golditch continued his path on the football field, where he continued to play on a scholarship as an offensive lineman at Colorado State University, then had chances with a variety of franchises in the National Football League before that dream came to an end. Before it became apparent that a large professional paycheck was not forthcoming, Golditch hoped to start a foundation or scholarship himself.

Now he has the chance to do so thanks to the race-scholarship combo, which he presented to 7/20 Foundation CEO Heather Dearman, who made it possible for the 10th anniversary.

“It was just the idea of ​​a way to bring people together,” he said. “I’ve never done a 5k before, but I know people who have done it and they seem so inclusive and motivating. This allows people to go out in the sun to exercise. A 5K doesn’t seem too intimidating unlike a marathon. It was something I put out there and she (Dearman) ran with it. She built a great team and involved many hands. It has evolved and it should be a big, big event.

Golditch looks forward to the end result: giving back to help an Aurora Public Schools senior he can relate to to help them achieve a brighter future. The APS Foundation will handle the logistics of the scholarship, which is called the Zack Golditch Opportunity Scholarship.

“Not seeing all my friends go to college and being lucky enough to have my school funded by football, I couldn’t imagine taking on the burden of college debt,” he said. “With all of this stuff piling up, I thought it would be a great goal for a scholarship to help someone in Aurora Public Schools with these things. …I just felt like it was one of the ways I could give back to APS and Aurora for everything they did for me after 7/20.

The biggest way the shooting affected him was to implant a spark in him to help others.

At first he wanted to become a police officer, but the law enforcement aspect of the job was not for him. Then Golditch discovered the work of firefighters and it spoke to him. Less than a year after his athletic career ended, he was hired by South Metro Fire Rescue and has worked there for two years.

“It replicated the role sports had in my life, joining the ultimate real-world sports team,” he said. “I had the prospect of being scared and being scared and wanting to help and being on the other side. … It’s a team sport, just with a different mission. I am never alone now. I always have someone by my side who is working towards the same common goal.

“I loved every second and I’m grateful for it.”

Golditch lives his life to the fullest with a job that fulfills him and makes a difference in the community.

He also has a big milestone to hit in October when he weds his fiancée, Sara, whom he met at CSU. It will be another major milestone in his life that almost didn’t happen if there was a different outcome that night.

“It’s hard to describe because so much has happened in my life over the past 10 years,” Golditch said. “I was 17 when it happened and I’m 27 now. The most critical and monumental milestones of my youth have happened since then. It feels like a long time ago, but I still remember it like it happened last week It’s crazy to think it’s been 10 years It’s funny because now I’m old enough to say I remember this very well which happened 10 years ago.

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