After her teenage son was shot to death, Debbie Parnham wanted to prevent others from a life of devastation and pain, so she turned her pain into a nonprofit organization, Life Sentence.
Her son’s murderer was found and sentenced; however Parnham and her family have received a life sentence without their beloved son and brother. Debbie Parnham passionately shares her story and talks to teens about choices. Her message has been taken to schools, churches, detention centers and prisons. Since she co-founded Life Sentence almost four years ago, she has spoken to approximately 27,000 adults and children.
She is not compensated for her labor; all of it is done on a volunteer basis. The donations received are used to pay for expenses. Parnham lets the people she meets know that choices have a rippling effect. The young man that killed her son made the choice to commit his crime – whether it was anger, a moment of passion or indifference. However, that one choice has had an effect on a marriage and other siblings who now have to deal with the loss of a family member. It only takes one split second to change someone’s life forever; the split second that killed her son almost destroyed her family.
Debbie Parnham has a hard time reliving her son’s death over and over again. For the most part, she still is not able to get through a presentation without shedding tears and taking time to regroup. She will continue with her mission, because it is well worth it. She will cry and talk and cry and talk with hopes of sparing at least one family the suffering she endures daily.