Don't Kill The Mellinger

Mindy Corporon’s energy is slowly returning

Mindy Corporan (right) spoke during a vigil held to mourn the victims of the Jewish Community Center in April.
Mindy Corporan (right) spoke during a vigil held to mourn the victims of the Jewish Community Center in April. The Kansas City Star

Mindy Corporon called, and my day is made. Maybe yours will brighten, too.

You probably remember Mindy. She lost her 14-year-old son and 69-year-old father in the senseless shootings that shook Kansas City in April. I talked to Mindy in June. She struck me, in one sentence, as trying to fight through unthinkable grief with determination and faith.

Mindy has always been athletic. She’s a former Chiefs cheerleader, and did three triathlons last year. Fitness and exercise have always been a big part of her life. Back in June, I was calling because Village Shalom was host to its annual Fathers Day run. After the gunman killed Mindy’s father and son at the Jewish Community Center, he drove to Village Shalom and shot a 53-year-old woman named Terri LaManno, who was visiting her mother.

Mindy didn’t know about the run before I called, but she mentioned a few different times during the conversation that it sounded like something she’d like to participate in. This is hard to describe, but when she said that, it sounded more as if she was trying to convince herself. She didn’t have the energy.

Your mind can plan an hour-long workout, but if your body isn’t ready to follow, it’s no use. At one point, I told her it sounded like her brain was trying to get her body to do things it just wasn’t ready for.

“That’s exactly right,” she said.

There’s no right or wrong way to grieve, especially not through such an unthinkable and heartless shooting. Mindy’s way is very much to keep on living. That’s what she told a gathering of friends and strangers at a vigil just hours after the shooting, and that’s what she tries to live up to.

Some days are harder than others. Some days are just really hard. Mindy tries to push the boundaries just a little more each day, little by little. It’s such an honest approach to a situation most of us are lucky enough to only fear, and not know personally.

All of which made her phone call this week so nice to hear. Just the tone of her voice was happier, cheerful, like the difference between a black-and-white mug shot and a full-color portrait.

“It’s 7:41 in the morning, and I want you to know I have my energy back,” she said. “I was prompted by your article, and I was prompted by my dad.”

The news — Mindy, who a month ago couldn’t even make it 30 minutes on an elliptical machine, is going to do the WIN for KC triathlon this weekend.

Mindy has simple goals. She is not trying to go as fast as she did a year ago, before everything changed. She just wants to get out there, and finish, and she knows she can do that much. She’ll be one of a half-dozen or so racers in Faith Wins jerseys, a reference to the website and movement she started after the tragedy.

The joy in her voice was so nice to hear. None of us know how we’d react to something like this. Mindy is doing the best she can.

“(Your article) inspired me to find my energy, to keep moving,” she said. “I thought you’d want to know. I found it. It’s back.”

To reach Sam Mellinger, call 816-234-4365, send email to or follow on Twitter @mellinger. For previous columns, go to