- Associated Press - Thursday, April 9, 2015

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Mindy Corporon’s father was dead and her son was dying from gunshots when she found them in the parking lot of the Jewish Community Center in suburban Kansas City nearly one year ago.

Corporon said she knew almost instantly that her faith and determination would help her overcome the tragedy last April 13 in Overland Park, Kansas.

“It was amazing to me,” she said this week. “I didn’t know my faith was that strong. It happened almost immediately. I knew I wanted to help people to understand that this evil could not prevail.”

Corporon joined with others to organize a week of events to create a legacy for her father, William Corporon, 69, and her 14-year-old son, Reat Underwood, and Terri LaManno, 53. LaManno was shot to death at nearby Village Shalom retirement home on the same day.

Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., 73, of Aurora, Missouri, who is charged with capital murder in the three killings, has told investigators he wanted to kill Jews. All of the victims were Christians.

“I get sad, I get angry. And I allow myself to go into that dark space because it is healing to mourn,” she said. “But I know I want to help people understand the beauty of different religions. They were killed because of one man’s complete misunderstanding of religion and God, his complete evilness. This week has a lot of different messages but I really want people to understand not to be afraid of differences, of things we don’t understand.”

The “SevenDays-Make a Ripple, Change The World,” events started Tuesday and will culminate with a community walk and celebration Monday, the one-year anniversary of the shootings.

Groups who were horrified by the shootings met with Corporon and LaManno’s family to work on a memorial, which eventually led to this week’s events, said Tammy Ruder, who helped coordinate the week.

“Mindy said she felt like the community gave her a big hug (after the shootings) and she wanted to continue that,” Ruder said. “She is an example to follow, after what happened, not to fall into what we see around the country where acts of hate bring more acts of hate. Instead, we want to react with kindness.”

Corporon said the event was intentionally not named for the victims and the last day’s theme is “Onward” for a specific reason.

“It could have been anybody who was killed, so we didn’t want it to just be about Dad, Reat and Terri. We want to go onward from this, to not let evil overcome us,” she said.

Each day of the week has a different theme - Love, Discover, Others, Connect, Go, You and Onward - all designed to promote diversity, understanding of different faiths and cultures, and connection with others. Events include a song-writing contest and speeches by a Holocaust survivor and a group representing different faiths.



SevenDays: www.givesevendays.org

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