WAUKESHA, Wis. — TMJ4 is honored to announce we'll be broadcasting the Waukesha Christmas Parade live this year so that community members can watch wherever they are most comfortable.
The community has been resilient in the face of last year's tragedy that killed six people and injured dozens more.
For one store owner, the tragedy is still very real, but the determination to keep going is strong... Waukesha Strong.
Every time someone buys a Waukesha Strong T-shirt or item at Tami Evanoff's store Burlap and Lace, the fund set up to help victims gets another donation and the community gets something else.
"It's a big warm hug. Everybody coming in and supporting Waukesha and coming from everywhere," said Evanoff.
Emotional and financial support for the community is still going strong. The United for Waukesha Community Fund has now raised $6.7 million for families who lost loved ones and the dozens injured and hospitalized.
Evanoff believes the donated money has been invaluable.
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"I know some people that were able to get that money, whether it be counseling or just helping to pay some of the bills that they incurred," said Evanoff. "That fund has helped a lot of people and it's going to continue to help a lot of people."
The pain still runs deep for Evanoff when she thinks of the people who died that day, including Jackson Sparks.
Just this month a bench was added outside her store in memory of Jackson, who loved baseball.
"It's hard, my son-in-law made that bench. He was here that night as well. That was part of his therapy to do that for the Sparks family," said Evanoff. "I've seen family members, friends, just come out and reflect."
Evanoff will be the first to tell you this year's Christmas will be emotionally hard, but she's determined to be there, not just to honor the memories of those who died, but for the world to see Waukesha coming together.
"We will be here. We will serve hot cocoa-like we did that day, hot apple cider and cookies. We'll have all of those things," said Evanoff. "It's going to be tough, but we are strong. We're Waukesha Strong, and we're going to show everybody that."
The $6.7 million fund has been allocated. The families of the six people who lost their lives each received $200,000.
The 29 people who were hospitalized received a total of about $2.5 million, and 37 people who were treated as out patients received $408,000.
So far, $6.2 million has been distributed to 560 individuals impacted by the parade attack.
All the new money coming in will be distributed to those who applied and received a share of money raised. The fund is expected to be depleted and closed by the end of 2022.