Walking Toward Unity

Annual walk spreads message on embracing diversity, combating hate


Ifrah Sayyada, Staff Writer

April 13 is the day many of us remember as the tragic shooting that took place at the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom, claiming the lives of three individuals. One individual was Blue Valley student Reat Underwood.

Following this tragedy, SevenDays was formed in order to help others embrace diversity and combat hate.

“SevenDays is a community healing event,” said Mindy Corporon, Underwood’s mother and director of the Faith Always Wins Foundation in an article in BV North’s newspaper. “It was created for everyone in our community to heal from something that might be causing them angst, anguish or grief. It is an event to pull people out of their synagogues, out of their mosques, out of their churches and be able to worship every day of the week in each person’s own human way.”

The organization spreads its message in various ways, but one event the entire community partakes in is the annual walk, which is on April 18 this year.

“The purpose of the walk is to bring our community together and to accept each other for who we are,” said junior Belal Jamil, youth council member of the SevenDays board.

Corporon said the walk promotes diversity and increases faith in others.

“Our event will always touch people who had a tragedy and overcame it with their faith,” she said. “If we can find and speak to those people that are willing to talk about how faith helped them overcome, that is a key aspect of SevenDays and helping people heal.”

Junior Jake Svilarich, Underwood’s best friend, said the walk has done a great job of representing its purpose.

“The purpose of the walk originally was to bring everyone together, support each other and show that we are a strong community that is there to help each other when bad stuff happens,” he said.

The walk includes many different activities each year, such as speakers to keep the community involved.

Senior Mariam Habib said her favorite things about the events last year were the week of kindness and the walk’s activities.

“I liked how the mayor spoke last year before we started walking,” she said. “I like the whole concept of remembering Reat by doing the SevenDays Challenge and having a walk in his honor.”

Svilarich said he wants to see some new events incorporated into future walks to get more people involved.

“Family activities would be really helpful,” he said. “Being able to make it more fun and manageable for families would alter the experience for them.”

Habib said everyone should participate in the walk.

“It’s a way to learn about what happened,” she said. “Everyone should know what happened so we can prevent events like this in the future.”

Corporon said the event increases awareness of different beliefs and also increases compassion for others.

“We need to understand that extreme things happen, but those actions do not speak for the entire faith or race,” she said. “It’s OK to not understand, but try to learn. Learn, don’t fear. When we were walking, we stopped and looked at the sea of people that had come together [as one]. I believe that SevenDays is making a difference in a lot of people’s lives.”