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SevenDays® 2018 expands to spread interfaith, kindness message

SevenDays® 2018 will mark the fourth year of activities spreading interfaith and kindness messages. Shown at the 2018 announcement are Jim LaManno (from left), Mindy Corporon and Alana Muller. SevenDays is chaired by Corporon, Muller and Jill Anderson.

Our world continues to be bombarded with acts of violence and the loss of innocent lives. One Kansas City area organization continues to make a difference through acts of kindness and interfaith dialogue.

SevenDays® Make a Ripple, Change the World is an annual series of weeklong events aimed at overcoming such tragedies that are often the result of hatred, bigotry and ignorance.

SevenDays® will take place for the fourth year in the Greater Kansas City area Tuesday, April 10, through Monday, April 16, 2018.  

SevenDays® 2018 continues the healing journey following the murders that took the lives of Dr. William Corporon, his grandson Reat Underwood and Teresa LaManno outside of Jewish facilities in April 2014. The three lost their lives at the hands of a convicted neo-Nazi shooter. 

Determined to turn tragedy into triumph, family members and friends joined together to create something positive to overcome this senseless hate crime. 

Sponsored by the Faith Always Wins Foundation and LaManno-Hastings Family Foundation in partnership with several organizations, SevenDays® engages all people to discover commonalities and overcome evil with acts of kindness. Their vision is to make a ripple to change the world by connecting communities.

“As we embark on our fourth annual event I take pause to see how far our families have come from the day we lost my father, Reat and Terri,” said Mindy Corporon, Reat’s mother and Dr. Corporon’s daughter. “While our families will always remember we are also healing and moving onward with passion. Our passion is to help others through their own personal tragedy, to explore another faith and to find commonalities with their neighbor or coworker through acts of kindness. We are all human,” Corporon said. 

“Let’s start the conversation with this. The majority of us do not want violence, terrorism or even sarcastic remarks about our religion. We want to enjoy the world in which we live and leave it in a better place. We can do this through understanding commonalities and SevenDays® provides the platform for this engagement.” 

“SevenDays® is more important now than ever,” said Jim LaManno, husband of Teresa LaManno. 

“Though we still remember our loved ones, we strive to make things better for all the other families who have lost loved ones to senseless violence in the past year. It seems, at times, we are going backwards but we must remain steadfast and redouble our efforts to spread kindness and give joy and peace to all through SevenDays and every day,” LaManno said.

For 2018, the annual Faith Love & Walk will take place on Monday, April 16, taking off from both a Kansas City and national landmark located in the heart of our community — the National World War I Museum and Memorial. The walk will circle the grounds of the memorial before a celebratory conclusion. Registration for the walk will be available after the first of the year at www.givesevendays.org.

Keeping the Faith, Love and Walk in the downtown area was an important decision that was given much thought. Organizers realize that what SevenDays® has to offer is bigger than the location of the shootings. With additional hate crimes taking place, the entire community has to work together to put a stop to them. 

“We are announcing our events today, only a few days ahead of Veteran’s Day and in front of a memorial dedicated to those who fought to protect our freedom. Freedom we often take for granted, until we don’t. The World War I Museum also provides the perfect backdrop to the final day of our SevenDays® events,” Corporon said.

There will be a handful of pre-SevenDays® activities including a First Fridays event in the Crossroads District. Details will be announced soon.  

The events planned for SevenDays® 2018 include:

SevenDays® of Kindness

Everyone has the power to make a ripple and change the world — and that’s what SevenDays® is all about. Each of the SevenDays® has a special theme — Love, Discover, Others, Connect, Go, You and Onward — reflecting the overall spirit of the effort. Beginning with Day One on Tuesday, April 10, Day One will kick off the week’s activities with a special interfaith program and awards ceremony. Other events include a diversity dinner, presentations by renowned interfaith scholar Valarie Kaur and author and documentarian Yvette Corporon as well as a community blood drive, interfaith workshops and mental wellness fairs.

Each day of the SevenDays® events will provide an opportunity for participants to engage digitally and in person. Events will be held at various locations throughout the metropolitan area. The SevenDays® team of volunteers has created resources for educators, learners and organizations allowing for participation at each person’s desired level of engagement. All ages are encouraged to participate. Each day will feature special activities — everything from speakers and films to workshops and hands-on community service projects. Suggested kindness activities for the community are also available. Community groups and organizations are invited to create their own and share them through SevenDays® social media sites using #givesevendays and #betheripple. Information about the themes, activities and sponsored events will be continuously updated on the SevenDays® website, www.givesevendays.org as well as the Facebook page @givesevendays.

SevenDays® Youth Planning Team & Button Contest

Sixteen area high schools students have been chosen to serve on the SevenDays® Youth Planning Team. Reflecting the diversity of our SevenDays® effort, this youth group is comprised of students from a variety of faiths including Atheist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim, reflecting the importance of diversity in making change. Members of the Youth Team are:

Syed Hussain, Muslim; Blue Valley West High School

Athena Tran, Thesist; Blue Valley North High School

Nora Sjue, Christian-Presbyterian; Pembroke Hill

Ahmed Shabbir, Muslim; Blue Valley Southwest High School

Elizabeth Puthmana, Christian-Catholic; Notre Dame De Sion High School

Jack Reeves, Jewish; Blue Valley High School

Emma Andersen, Catholic; Blue Valley High School

Salah Mirza, Muslim; Blue Valley High School

Catherine Ebbitts, Catholic; St. Teresa’s Academy

Elaine Zhu, Cultural Christian; Blue Valley High School

Saketh Bhavanasi, secular-Hindu; Blue Valley Southwest High School

Sydney Osterlund, Catholic; Blue Valley High School 

Arjee Fatima, Muslim; Blue Valley North High School

Cooper Schram, Protestant; Blue Valley North High School

Nathan Safir, Jewish; American School-Netherlands

Divya Gupta, Seeking-humanist; Blue Valley North High School

The Youth Team has recently finished creating a digital platform through LRNG allowing participation in all events to occur via the Internet. Each member has selected a committee to join and they are engaging in significant assistance throughout the event. Twelve month programming has been created for the Youth in partnership with the Kansas City Interfaith Youth Alliance. Clare Stern has joined the organization as executive director of Interfaith Youth Engagement. These activities are open to any interested teens.

A signature of SevenDays® has been giving out colorful buttons with designs reflecting each day’s theme. For the second year in a row, this fall, a button-design contest took place inviting area high school students to submit their artwork for consideration. Designs from eight different students were chosen for the 2018 SevenDays® buttons, which are now in production. Each student will receive a $250 award for their design. The buttons will be available beginning in February. The winning button designers are:

Beau Bezanson, Blue Valley Southwest, Day One-LOVE

Gabbie Granoff, Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy, Day Two-DISCOVER

Syeda Mahnoor, Blue Valley West, Day Three-OTHERS

Anabeth Lakker, Shawnee Mission West, Day Four- CONNECT 

Olivia Barbosa, Olathe South, Day Five-YOU

Leslie Ponce Diaz, Sumner Academy of Arts & Science, Day Six-GO

Ethan Ensley, Shawnee Mission North, Day Seven-Onward

Jonathan Ramos Tecorall, Shawnee Mission Northwest, General Button-Make a Ripple

Kindness essay competition

The third annual SevenDays® Make a Ripple, Change the World Scholarship competition for high school seniors has kicked off this fall and the application is now available on the website. Seniors are encouraged to create a project addressing one or more of the SevenDays® themes, execute it and submit an essay about its impact. Five $1,000 scholarships will be awarded for higher education tuition. Full details can be found on the SevenDays® web site. The submission deadline is March 2, 2018.

Faith Love & Song highlights local musical talent

Music is a universal language with tremendous healing powers. Submissions are now being taken for the third annual Faith, Love & Song songwriting competition, sponsored in partnership with the RRACE (Racial and Religious Acceptance and Cultural Equality) Foundation. Kansas City Drs. Ekkehard and Sieglinde Othmer founded RRACE in protest of blind prejudice and intolerance. 

The goal of the competition is to create art and music that gives voice to the need for acceptance of diversity and compassion for other human beings regardless of racial, religious, and cultural backgrounds.

Youth ages 14-21 are asked to submit original compositions that address the subjects of racial, religious, and/or cultural equality and acceptance. This song competition is aimed at promoting understanding, tolerance and acceptance through the arts. Submissions will be taken until Feb. 9, 2018; the public will help choose the three finalists in the competition via YouTube. The top winner will receive a $5,000 scholarship and the finalists will perform during SevenDays®. Complete rules and details for the song competition are now available on the SevenDays® web site.

Financial sponsorships are welcomed for each themed day, activity, as well as for the decorative button distribution, scholarships and awards to the participating students.  

Numerous volunteer opportunities are available for SevenDays®; those interested are urged to regularly check the web site for details and registration. There are also opportunities for area businesses and organizations to become involved with SevenDays®. 

While most SevenDays® events are free of charge and open to the public, there will be a participation fee for the Faith, Love & Walk on April 16. The fee does include a commemorative T-shirt; other SevenDays®-themed items are also available through the web site’s shop. 

During the first three years of the SevenDays® effort, more than $133,000 has been given to various nonprofit organizations that further interfaith, kindness, performing arts, and youth health needs. The Reat Griffin Underwood Memorial Foundation and The LaManno Hastings Family Foundation are equal beneficiaries of net proceeds and donations of SevenDays® to continue this important work. Donations are tax deductible.

For more information about SevenDays®, contact Ruth Baum Bigus, 913-707-7746 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Additional information is also available at www.givesevendays.org.