SevenDays, Make a Ripple, Change the World

SevenDays, Make a Ripple, Change the World

SevenDays

On Sunday, April 13, 2014, a former Ku Klux Klan leader and Neo-Nazi ambushed visitors at the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom retirement community in Overland Park, Kan.  The shooter killed 14-year-old Blue Valley High student Reat Underwood, his 69-year-old grandfather Dr. William Corporon, and 53-year-old occupational therapist Terri LaManno. Nearly one year later, a group of community members have come together to mark the one-year anniversary in a positive way by creating a week-long event called SevenDays to inspire change.

Since the tragedy, Mindy Corporon, mother of Reat Underwood and daughter of Dr. William Corporon, has been compelled to change the community and the world.

“We want something good to come out of this,” Corporon said. “What I have learned that has been most impactful to me is the love that is available in so many people.”

Corporon acknowledged the amazing community support since the tragedy that took the lives of her son and father.

“People remember that day, certainly people in our community remember where they were that day and what they were doing,” Corporon said. “Their outpouring of love has been monumental to us. We have a wonderful community.”

Following the atrocity, Corporon founded Faith Always Wins, an organization to engage others in a dialogue that will encourage faith, love and acts of kindness. Corporon dreams of creating a sustainable organization to further spread her message.

“I had a pretty long-term but lofty goal of raising one million dollars so that the foundation itself can be self-sustaining. We started talking about what events we could do,” Corporon said. “Our first idea was a concert. The singing concept, that’s what Reat was interested in, and my dad was in performing arts, so that made sense.”

Hoping to draw a larger crowd, Corporon’s family decided to do more than a concert. Now, ten months after the shooting, the Faith Always Wins Foundation, the Racial and Religious Acceptance and Cultural Equality Foundation (RRACE) and the Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired (CCVI) planned a culminating event, called SevenDays, in which they will call on the community to “make a ripple, change the world.”

The SevenDays event has three components that will span from April 7 to April 13. The first and overarching aspect of the event, the SevenDays of Kindness, will take place throughout the entire week. Community members are encouraged to commit acts of kindness every day, with each day related to a different theme.

On April 13, the one-year anniversary of the shootings, a peace walk will take place beginning at the Jewish Community Campus on 115th Street and Nall and ending at the Church of the Resurrection on 137th and Nall.

“I see the diversity in the event as a chance to bring people of all ages together. It’s a chance to bring people from religious and ethnic backgrounds and to cause people to start thinking about the positive things they can do every day instead of the negative hate crimes,” Kim Galbraith, co-chairman of the walk, said. “We need to develop new habits to think about doing something genuine and kind and loving every single day.”

Corporon hopes that the entire community will participate and help change the world.

“We are taking up the lanes of the streets. I want there to be a lot of us, so that there is a helicopter from a news station that’s overlooking the walk, seeing how powerful it is and broadcasting it to the nation,” Corporon said. “Look how this community came together after that tragedy. Our community can be the ripple that changes the world.”

After finishing the walk at the Church of the Resurrection, a “celebration” will take place that will include the winners of the songwriting competition for youth ages 14 to 21. The competition is sponsored by the RRACE Foundation and Othmer Family.

“We wanted to give [the youth] opportunities through the arts to help make change in the world,” Lovell Holloway, Director of the RRACE Foundation, said.  “Music and art bring people together. It’s universal.”

The winning compositions will be performed at the celebration. The public will have the chance to help choose the winners by viewing the finalists entries on YouTube from March 29 to April 4. The winner will receive a $5,000 scholarship.

All of the sponsoring organizations encourage youth to be the active participants throughout SevenDays. Corporon believes younger participants are the most capable of absorbing the SevenDays message of embracing diversity across races, religions and cultures.

“If we can get to the youth and help them understand that faith and love and kindness are  more important than disagreeing and guns, then they will help change the rest of the world. If we change the community with them, then they can be the ripple that changes the rest of the world,” Corporon said. “We are more alike than we are different. If we would just be willing to talk to one another, we could figure that out.”