How One Sandy Hook Mom Is Keeping Her 6-Year-Old Daughter’s Dream Alive

(CBS News) — When Catherine Hubbard wasn’t in class at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the 6-year-old was most likely spending her time lining up her stuffed animals, playing with her 13-year-old yellow Lab named Sammy and running around her backyard attempting to catch (and release) butterflies.

“It wasn’t like she loved one certain type of animal — she ran the gamut, and was inclusive of all of them,” Catherine’s mom, Jenny Hubbard, told CBS News. “It’s who she was, and we just allowed her to pursue that and cultivate that love.”

Catherine’s fiery red hair matched her personality perfectly. The first-grader was passionate about the things she loved, and animals were at the top of the list.

“We were a family who had pets we cared for, but I feel like her spirit for all living beings really superseded what we had taught her,” Hubbard said.


When Hubbard got a tragic call Dec. 14, 2012, about a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, she rushed to the fire house to find Catherine’s distraught older brother, Freddy. Some parents started calling the hospital, but Hubbard didn’t.

“I sat there with Freddy because I knew in my heart, I knew that Catherine was gone,” Hubbard told CBS News in a 2013 interview. “I just knew it. Mother’s instinct, call it what you want.”

Unfortunately, Hubbard was right. Her 6-year-old daughter was one of the 20 children, along with six adults, killed in the shooting.

In the days following the shooting, as Hubbard arranged Catherine’s funeral, she struggled to find a way to honor her daughter’s memory. Then she spotted an animal, and pictured Catherine’s cheerful grin.

So, in lieu of flowers, the family asked that donations be sent to a local animal rescue in Newtown in Catherine’s name.

“We did not realize at the time the volume of generosity and the magnitude of donations received in Catherine’s memory,” Hubbard said.

Because of those donations, Hubbard eventually built something that her daughter had always dreamed about: an animal sanctuary.

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