Cassie Bernall’s courage followed her parents’ courage to inter

LITTLETON, Colo. (BP)--Long before Cassie Bernall had the courage to die for her faith, her parents had the courage to derail her from bad choices and ungodly influences.

Misty and Brad Bernall told ABC’s Peggy Wehmeyer on the newsmagazine “20/20” April 26 that Cassie -- an ever-smiling child who had loved being with other children -- began changing for the worse as a young teen.

As Cassie entered the ninth grade, Misty Bernall said, “I had that gut feeling that something was wrong. I couldn’t pinpoint it, but I just knew something was wrong. I didn’t feel like either of us [she or her husband] had any connection with her [Cassie].”

Misty searched Cassie’s room and found hidden letters from one of her daughter’s closest friends -- letters that left her speechless.

The letters, Brad said, “were talking about things that they could do to parents that could be just tragic.”

Additionally, Cassie also was developing an interest in witchcraft and in drugs and alcohol.

Facing the trauma of how to deal with a troubled teen, Wehmeyer noted, “The Bernalls decided the only way to stop their daughter from making more bad decisions was to make good decisions for her.”

Wehmeyer continued, “They changed Cassie’s school. They began regularly searching her room and backpacks. And they forced her to cut off all contact with everyone she had hung out with, including her best friend.”

Said Brad, “It’s the hardest thing a parent will ever do, to put your foot down and say, ‘It stops right here.’”

Said Misty, “As a parent, I struggled with that feeling of betrayal of a child that you love with all your being who was telling you that she hated you. But we knew what we felt was best for her and what we felt we had to do.”

One weekend, the Bernalls permitted Cassie to go on a church youth retreat -- which changed their daughter’s life.

Said Brad, “When she left she was this gloomy, head down, say nothing [youth]. When she came back, her eyes were open and bright and she was bouncy and just excited about what had happened to her and was just so excited to tell us. It was like she was in a dark room, and somebody turned the light on, and she saw the beauty that was surrounding her.”

Said Misty, “She looked at me in the eye and she said, ‘Mom, I’ve changed. I’ve totally changed. I know you’re not going to believe it, but I’ll prove it to you.’”

After she and her husband learned of 17-year-old Cassie’s courage in the face of death during the April 20 melee at Columbine High School, Misty said, “We looked at each other and we said, ‘Would I have done that? I would have begged for my life.’ She didn’t.”

Not long ago, Misty said, she and Cassie talked about death.

“I don’t know how we got on the topic, but Cassie said to me, ‘Mom, it would be OK if I died.’ She said, ‘I’d be in a better place, and you know where I’d be.’”

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