'There's hope like never before': Waukesha priest injured in parade attack shares message on eve of the tragedy
WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Monday, Nov. 21 will mark one year since six people were killed and dozens of others were injured in a deadly attack during the Waukesha Christmas Parade.
It's been 365 days of grieving, hurting and healing for many.
For Pastor Emeritus Patrick Heppe with Catholic Community of Waukesha, the past year has been a time of reflection and a testament to just how strong the Waukesha community is.
“It did bring us together, but we never expected that it would bring us together like this," Father Heppe said.
Heppe was walking in the parade when all of a sudden, the woman next to him was hit by what turned out to be Darrell Brooks' SUV.
She then fell into him, knocking Heppe to the ground in what he describes as "a human domino chain".
Heppe ended up blacking out and concussed in the Waukesha Memorial intensive care unit.
While the trial wrapped up last week with Brooks given six consecutive life sentences without parole, plus 762.5 years of confinement, the scars on Waukesha still remain.
“I’ve been doing this for a while, and I don’t think I fully realized the impact that trauma can have on your life," Father Heppe said. "You store it away and for some reason, it keeps coming back."
Heppe said one of the most important things people can do to heal is to lean on their faith and each other.
"You need someone to walk with you because you really can't do it alone," Father Heppe said. "We want to talk, and we want someone to listen and just sharing the experience together and walking together has been very helpful."
On Nov. 21, the City of Waukesha will hold a remembrance ceremony to honor those whose lives were lost and those who are still struggling.
The event will take place at Cutler Park's Les Paul Performance Center at 4:39 p.m. -- the exact time that tragedy struck.
"The ceremony will include remarks from Mayor Shawn Reilly, Governor Tony Evers, Fire Chief Steve Howard, Police Chief Dan Thompson, Father Patrick Heppe, and Carmen De La Paz. Upon the conclusion of the ceremony, the mayor will be “turning the City blue” and asking everyone to again light their homes or businesses in blue lights as a show of unity and support for all the victims of last year’s tragedy," a news release said. "At the ceremony, there will be limited quantities of free blue light bulbs available for those needing one and there will be blue glow bracelets courtesy of Educator's Credit Union. Healing Hearts of Southeast Wisconsin will also be on hand with staff and trained volunteers for anyone needing someone to talk to."
For those who can't attend in person, the city's Facebook page will also be live streaming the ceremony.
“I have not seen a community come together like I’ve seen the Waukesha community come together," Father Heppe said. “It’s been painful but there’s hope and I think there’s hope like I’ve never seen it before.”
This year's Christmas Parade will be held on Dec. 4 at 4:00. It will be the city's 59th annual celebration.