Looking upon a crowd of thousands, Mindy Corporon had reason to smile Monday despite the tragedy that struck a year ago not far from where she stood.
“Wow, just so many people,” said Corporon, the mother of one young victim and daughter of another killed on the Jewish Community Campus in 2014.
“They’re here to show other parts of the United States, hopefully, the love and kindness in our hearts. This is how you heal from evil.”
They also came to walk.
On the first anniversary of the deadly rampage outside Jewish facilities in Overland Park, about 3,000 people from all walks put their feet forward in a show of unity and hope.
The three-mile Peace Walk began at the Jewish Community Campus and concluded at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood.
The march was the culmination of seven days of observances that began last week, promoting “faith, love and kindness” under the name SevenDays: Make a Ripple, Change the World.
Families of the three people killed in the shootings encouraged the weeklong reflection and celebration, co-sponsored by several civic and corporate partners.
Thinking of his late wife, Terri LaManno, Jim LaManno said: “I wonder what her take on all this would be. She’d probably be like, ‘What’s all the fuss, for me....?
“She always put service above self — just like these folks who showed up to walk.”
Thumping dance music played through loudspeakers gave the ceremonies before the march a celebratory tone.
Kansas City Mayor Sly James told the crowd that hate could not destroy a community that unites against it.
“We are one family,” he said. “We will always be together.”
As the walk commenced down Nall Avenue, the line of humanity stretched several blocks, with mothers pushing baby strollers and grade-schoolers riding Razor scooters.
An anti-Semite is scheduled to face trial in August for the shotgun slayings of William Corporon, 69, his 14-year-old son Reat Underwood and Terri LaManno, 53.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for F. Glenn Miller Jr., 74, who has said publicly that he was targeting Jews. All three victims were Christian.
Miller is alleged to have opened fire outside the Jewish Community Center before proceeding to Village Shalom care center, where LaManno was shot.
Memorial activities earlier Monday included a morning Mass and balloon release at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Kansas City. Later, Mindy Corporon — daughter of William Corporon and mother of Reat — attended the unveiling of a bench dedicated in Reat’s memory at Blue Valley High School.
She said when the high school choir sang at the unveiling, she could hear the voice of her son, who was a choir member.
A recording of Reat singing the national anthem was played over speakers at the Jewish Community Campus to launch the walk.
An evening program at the Church of the Resurrection featured songs penned for the occasion by young area composers.