Daniel's parents, Mark and Jackie, along with his brother James, 12, talked with Katie Couric about his remarkable empathy, his mother telling the TV host, "how unusual he was."
"Daniel was fearless in his pursuit of happiness and life," his family wrote in a statement released to the media. "He earned his ripped jeans and missing two front teeth."
"He embodied everything that is wholesome and innocent in the world," the statement said. "Our hearts break over losing him and for the many other families suffering loss."
The Bardens are often shuttling their children – including Daniel, James and their 10-year-old sister, Natalie -- from one activity to the next, said friends, colleagues and neighbors who admired their ability to keep up with their children's active schedule. This summer, Daniel scored the final goal in the last game of the soccer season. He loved to swim, and his mother's Facebook page featured a photo of her three children smiling at the beach. On Sunday morning, she posted a public note on Facebook saying, "Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers."
Jackie Barden is a second-grade teacher at Pawling Elementary School in Pawling, N.Y. She is one of the school district's reading specialists.
"She is a wonderful mom," said Lynn Maloney, who teaches second grade in the classroom next to Barden's. "She was extremely close to her children. She's a teacher and I'm a teacher, and children are really the centers of our world. She adored her family, and I am sure she must be devastated, like any mom."
It was around 9:30 a.m. when Barden learned there was a tragedy at her son's elementary school, colleagues said. A guidance counselor drove a shaken Barden back to Connecticut, where she learned about the loss of her 7-year-old son.
Jackie's husband, Mark Barden, is a rock guitarist who plays at places such as Proud Mary's, a local bar, according to Javier Mendizabal, who works there. A forum was set up on a message board called thegearpage.net to offer condolences. One man referred to Mark Barden as a "kind, gentle and humble man, as well as one of the most talented guitarists I know."
On Saturday, friends and family members gathered in the Sandy Hook section of Newtown to visit the Bardens. A local pastor prayed with them.
A bio on Jackie Barden's school Web page says the family has a pet ball python named Todd and a tortoise named Queenie.
Even for neighbors who did not know them intimately, such as Peter Bernson, there is an image they would see each morning they are sure they will miss — a smiling, laughing boy with a reddish-brown mop top and missing two front teeth, hoisted on his father's shoulders, headed to the school bus stop.
-- Washington Post; Courant Staff Report
Rachel D'Avino, Age 29
Rachel D'Avino was pursuing a dream of helping and serving others when she lost her life during the Newtown shootings.
At Sandy Hook, D'Avino was an intern, offering one-on-one instruction to a child with special needs. She was also a student at University of Saint Joseph, where she was pursuing a graduate certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis.
In a statement from the family, Mary D'Avino, Rachel's mother, said she knew that one day Rachel would have the letters, Ph.D, following her name.
"Now instead of 'Dr.' in front of her name, she'll have 'St.' in front of it. She's up there with those kids," Mary said.
Those who knew her at the school remember her fondly, as both a professional and passionate young woman eager to work with children. One of her professor's, Deirdre Fitzgerald, described her as a dynamic individual, respected by her peers and full of potential.
"She was a leading force in the group," said Fitzgerald in a statement. "She just sparked with ideas and potential."
Christine Carmody, Rachel's aunt, recalled her laughter.