Guest Commentary

Five years after JoCo Jewish center shootings, Mindy Corporon fights back with kindness, faith and healing

Has it been five years?

Theater, lacrosse, baseball games, trips to the Bass Pro Shop and turkey hunting — they all stopped on April 13, 2014.

That’s when a white supremacist took the lives of three people he didn’t know at two Jewish centers in Overland Park.

My father William Corporon would have enjoyed five years of birthday cake from each of his 10 grandchildren. My son Reat would have turned 20 in May of this year. No doubt he would be on a college campus, working his way into a career as a neurologist with theatrical aspirations. A friend to many, he missed three years of high school and seeing his brother grow into a mature, contemplative, caring young man.

Terri LaManno missed significant graduations for each of her younger children and never got to move them into their new homes as they venture into adulthood, achieving what she wanted most: loving life.

Personally, the transitions I have made in life are too many to recount here. I made a new home in Florida with my husband and son Lukas for the sole purpose of helping Lukas heal. My career is now filled with nonprofit work (based in Lenexa) rather than financial wealth management, which was my career and life’s passion for 26 years. I repurposed myself, out of necessity, to heal.

My husband and I are still married, which is a feat of achievement after suffering so much devastating loss. I wanted to run and hide, leave the pain behind me … but for what? A new group of people who would never share the same pain or memories of my beloved father and son?

Counseling, journaling, yoga, deepening friendships, tear-filled conversations, no makeup and hugs were all necessary as I struggled to stand on my own two feet. You didn’t see me like this, did you? All of this is real, and can come back in the blink of an eye. It’s called grief.

My husband explains that we don’t get over their deaths; we learn to carry the burden of losing them with us. Every new memory is created with them in our hearts and on our minds.

While I have never questioned my ability to make our world a better place, the murders of dad, Reat and Terri hyper-focused my intentions on kindness, faith and healing. But other questions remained: Could I make the world a better place in each of these three areas? Would this help me heal? Could I find joy in this pursuit?

Our Faith Always Wins Foundation stands on three pillars, and yes, you guessed them: kindness, faith and healing. Our annual event — SevenDays - Make a Ripple, Change the World — fills up our kindness pillar.

Our interfaith workshops and Interfaith Youth Leadership Team make up our faith pillar. And Workplace Healing LLC, created in 2018, helps businesses by conducting workshops that provide an innovative approach to healing in the workplace, where we spend much of our lives.

Born from the murders that took three lives because of hate, fear and ignorance, our three pillars promote dialogue for the betterment of our world.

Family and friends bring me joy. Pouring my heart and soul into our foundation, helping people find healing, peace, love and understanding of “the other” bring me my own peace, my own onward.

Five years ago, I would not have imagined I would be promoting a conversation with reformed white supremacists. Yet here I am asking you to come listen and learn on Thursday and Friday.

I mistakenly thought “being raised by hate” was the only path to this supremacy ideology. Come hear how wrong I was. Learn about Hinduism, Judaism and other faiths along with taking care of you. Join us for a community walk.

Find your healing. Find your onward.

Mindy Corporon is the mother of Reat Underwood and daughter of William Corporon, who were murdered by a convicted white supremacist in a hate crime outside of Jewish facilities in April 2014 along with Terri LaManno. Corporon, family and friends created the free SevenDays-Make a Ripple, Change the World to spread kindness and interfaith understanding in Kansas City April 9-15.

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