April 13, 2014, is a day that changed Mindy Corporon’s, Oklahoma, life.
Mindy’s son, Reat, was set to audition for a talent show at the local Jewish Community Center. Her other son had a lacrosse game at the same time, so Mindy’s father offered to take Reat to the audition.
It was the same day, a man — whom Mindy describes as someone who was “raised with ignorance and who found hate” — decided to target and kill Jewish people.
The lacrosse game was cancelled so Mindy drove over to the Jewish Community Center, expecting to arrive in time to watch Reat’s audition. What she found when she pulled into the parking lot was the scene of a horrific tragedy.
The gunman had arrived in the parking lot at the same time as Mindy’s father and son and had ambushed them. As Mindy explains, although the gunman had been specifically targeting Jewish people, in his ignorance it never occurred to him that non-Jewish people — like Mindy’s family — would be attending events at the community center.
“I found my dad already shot to death, lying in the parking lot,” Mindy remembers, and she recalls hearing a voice that told her, “Your father’s in heaven, go find Reat.” She took one last look at her dad and left to find her son injured nearby, in the arms of two strangers.
It was later at the hospital that Mindy and her family received the news that Reat too had passed away. But in her moment of loss, Mindy found comfort in her faith and knew immediately that something good had to come from this.
In the coming days, Mindy felt called to take action and create positive change. “I knew two of the three people who were killed, and they were amazing people. There was no way someone was going to take them away without a fight for their remembrance.”
In the coming weeks and months, Mindy and her family established a foundation, Faith Always Wins Foundation.
As the one-year anniversary of the shooting approached, Mindy’s mother came up with the idea for a seven-day kindness initiative that would take place each year in April. The initiative was named SevenDays® Make a Ripple, Change the World.
“It’s about helping people understand that one person can make a ripple,” Mindy explains. “One person can do one action and touch someone else, and it’s a chain reaction of good. What society sees feels like chain reactions of bad. Hate and evil are loud, so we try to make our activities just as loud and exciting.”
The week features a series of events that are designed to promote interfaith understanding and kindness. Each day has its own individual theme: Love, Discover, Others, Connect, You, Go, Onward. The mission is to promote interfaith dialogue by engaging all people to discover commonalities and to overcome evil with acts of kindness. It’s a way to remember the three lives lost on April 13, 2014 and, in their memory, create a wave of positive change for the future.
In 2018, SevenDays® will take place April 10-16. It will also mark the second year in a row that SevenDays® has hosted a special interfaith event at the largest synagogue in the Overland Park area. The event will include speakers from the Jewish, Christian and Islamic faiths who will engage in dialogues about love and faith.
The event has previously drawn close to 300 people. “People crave knowledge about other faiths,” Mindy explains. “And what we find is that we’re all so similar.”
Other events include: mind, body and soul workshops; song, essay and art competitions; inter-faith activist, speaker and author, Valarie Kaur; and blood drives. In addition to the week of activities, SevenDays® also incorporates year-round programming for youth on the topic of interfaith understanding.
The final event of the week, the Faith, Love & Walk, takes place on Monday, April 16 and is an annual walk designed to show solidarity in the community. The event features 14 different charities that people can choose to support. The purpose of the walk is to give these organizations a platform to tell their stories.
Specifically, Mindy says they look for smaller organizations that don’t get a lot of publicity. The theme of the walk, which draws an average of 2,200 participants each year, is “onward.” As Mindy explains, “Bad things happen to all of us. We all have worries and concerns; it’s all about finding your purpose in life to move onward.”
Mindy found her purpose by being brave and bold in the face of tragedy and creating an initiative that would spread kindness. The concept of kindness and helping others was instilled in Mindy when she was young and was solidified with her Tri Delta experience.
“I learned from my parents and grandparents about giving,” she says. “In college the giving kept happening through Tri Delta as we participated in community service events and learned the importance of helping others.”
Mindy adds, “We are all human. We are all created by a creator, and we are made in our DNA to love and to be loved.”