"The program we were 'SOLD' and the program Michelle died in were two entirely different programs."
We were SOLD a hands on learning experience supported by trained field persons, a psychologist, physician and nurses.
We were SOLD that Michelle would receive a physical before entering the program.
We were SOLD that the hikes are geared to the "slowest" person on the trek.
We were SOLD that a nutritionist would supervise the calorie intake of the children in the program. I was reasurred that Michelle would receive plenty of food and water and that "the children are not allowed to not eat."
Michelle was told she would be able to take a shower.
We were SOLD that the program is designed to serve the needs of each INDIVIDUAL and that safety and well-being are their highest priorities.
We were SOLD that the "relationship between the staff and the students is established upon a foundation of mutual trust."
Michelle was told that the program was accredited and that she would receive school credits upon completion of the program.
We were SOLD that our daughter will run five to ten miles into our arms. The program brochure states,"you will get that hug! Your family will be reunited. Tears will fall."
*Why Did You Send Her There?*
A Mother's Journal Through Grief
July 9, 1990Well, I will try this again!I lost my journal with my feelings, thoughts and prayers in it at the Airport on our way to ST George, Utah.We got back Saturday. The trip was worth it.
We were able to talk with Chad at the run in.While we were in ST George, we looked up newspaper articles from the time Michelle died to see what was being said about HOW she died.Everything is in such scattered pieces. It sure will be nice, or I should say give us peace of mind, when we get all the facts and know the whole story.We did calm a rumor while we were in ST George that we were told was started by Gayle Palmer. The rumor was that Michelle wanted to die.Sure makes us suspicious. What would cause Gayle to say such things? We gave Gayle Michelle's letter of confusion that she wrote to us the night she ran away. Michelle was in her own way asking for our help. We recognized Michelle's plea for help, called Summit Quest to arrange for her to go, now they are using all the information we gave them as an excuse for Michelle's death. Gayle says we knew it was dangerous. There is a difference between dangerous and what happened to Michelle. I feel like the kind of place we sent Michelle to, and the way things were that last day, are two different places. I was told Michelle was doing great. She was sick from day 2, and on the 7th day after much complaining and pleading was told to stop faking up until she died. When we asked why we were not notified about Michelle's death until the night of May 10, we were told it was because they did not want the media to tell us first. Gayle told me this. Fact is, there were NO radios. I thought this was a hands on experience with Mother Nature as the teacher, NOT a DO or DIE survival trek with counselors and friends pushing you till you die in the heat with NO water. I feel Summit Quest is not accepting any responsibility for what happened. I feel my daughter’s death was not necessary.Gayle told me that the group goes to the pace of the slowest person. They had NO water since morning, NO radios, and I was told they were lost. This seems so cruel to me. Not the picture I was given at all.Gayle told me that Challenger was a harsh program and that Summit Quest is not like that.I cannot help but think of the Fairy Tale Hansel and Gretel when I think of all this. I was promised my daughter would return from a great experience with self-esteem. I feel like we were robbed. Our family will never be the same.July 21, 1990We had a busy day today. Inside Edition from N.Y. will be here Thursday, so we worked on the house all day.I talked with Sharon Fuqua yesterday. She is the Mother of Kristen Chase who died on the 3rd day in the Challenger Program. Sharon seems nice and very sensitive. Sharon and her husband are flying to Utah next weekend to see where Kristen died. I already know how she is going to feel because we did the same thing two weeks ago. We live this every day, and I know Sharon does too.I talked to Andrea today. She said Gayle fired Murdock. He was mean to the kids. I would like to dream a dream with Michelle in it and be with her.I miss her so much.I love her!
*~Our Live's Are Forever Changed~*
As I think of all the love I have, deep in my heart for you,I know that this great love I feel, is felt by our God too.This child, she meant the world to me, and now my child is gone.I miss her touch, her love "Dear God," "How can I carry on?" "Please let me go beyond the veil, and hold her in my arms."Our home will never be the same, without her love and charm.I hugged and rocked her picture, as I held it to my chest."Dear Lord," I cried, "I was not there as she took her one last breath." "Is she happy God?", I asked, as I held her picture tight.I pleaded to see her beautiful smile, as I looked out into the night.The heavens opened up above, as I said, "Thy will be done."The answer came so quickly, as He said, "Something good will come." I'm thankful for a Father's love, that's been here through it all.I could not have done it on my own, for alone I'd surely fall.I have a living testimony, of how it must have been.For God to send His own son, to suffer for our sins. The promise Jesus made to us, as His mission was to end."The Comforter I'll send," He said, "Please let Him be your Friend.""He'll help you along life's journey, until your journey ends.Then soon we'll be together, never to part again." I know and love my Savior, as I never have before.I understand my Father's love, and will forever more.I've felt the pain that was God's to bear, as He sent His son to earth.How could they kill the King of Kings, the One of Royal Birth. God took you home, my sweet Michelle, to live above the clouds.He must have missed you, my little one, the way I miss you now. Written by Catherine Sutton
*God Must Have Missed You* *~The Way I Miss You Now~*
Copyright 2015 by Michelle Sutton Memorial Catherine Sutton. All rights reserved