To heal after parade tragedy, the Grannies must march again


              As the sun sets behind them, Kathi Schmeling, a coach and member of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, gives feedback to her teammates at a practice in Milwaukee on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. The group has made a comeback after tragedy struck at a Christmas parade last November in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Three Grannies and one group member’s husband were struck and killed when a driver of an SUV sped through the parade route, killing a total of six people and injuring dozens of others. The Grannies, who’ve vowed not to let the tragedy stop them, plan to perform at this year’s Christmas parade in Waukesha. (AP Photo/Martha Irvine)
            
              A plaque honoring Virginia “Ginny” Sorenson rests on a lamp post on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022, along Main Street in Waukesha, Wis., as Donna Kalik walks nearby. Sorenson was a leader and member of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies who was killed when the driver of an SUV sped through a Christmas parade in Waukesha last November, killing six and injuring dozens of other people. There is a plaque for each of the dead along the parade route. Several new members have joined the Grannies since the incident, including Kalik, who has become the group’s volunteer coordinator. She was at the parade last year and felt compelled to support the Grannies. “It was like a war zone,” she said of the scene the driver left in his wake. (AP Photo/Martha Irvine)
            
              A police officer on a motorcycle drives along the route of a Veterans’ Day parade in Milwaukee on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022. Incidents at parades and other public events across the country have caused officials to tighten security to try to keep people safe. Last November, the driver of an SUV sped through a Christmas parade in nearby Waukesha, Wisconsin, killing six and injuring dozens of other people. (AP Photo/Kenny Yoo)
            
              A woman cheers as a member of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies marches by at a Veterans’ Day parade on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, in Milwaukee. Even blustery, cold weather doesn’t scare away the Grannies, who are an institution in the area. Members are either grandmothers or grandmother figures. They practice weekly and perform at many parades and events throughout the year. (AP Photo/Kenny Yoo)
            
              From left, Debbie Bigler, 66; Colleen Minisce, 61, and Janis Kramer, 75, all members of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, prepare to march in the Veterans’ Day parade in Milwaukee on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022. Kramer, right, has been a Dancing Granny for about 19 years. Bigler and Minisce are among a crop of newer members who are helping the Grannies rebuild. They perform at parades and other events throughout the year. (AP Photo/Kenny Yoo)
            
              Colleen Minisce, left, and Janet Polley, right, and other members of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies perform by at a Veterans’ Day parade on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, in Milwaukee. The Grannies have recently added several new members, including Minisce and Polley, as they’ve rebuilt after tragedy hit last year at a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wis. Three Dancing Grannies and one group member’s husband were among those killed when the driver of an SUV struck them on the parade route. Dozens more, including some Grannies, were injured. (AP Photo/Kenny Yoo)
            
              Parade-goers watch as members of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies march by at a Veterans’ Day parade in Milwaukee on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022. The Grannies, founded in 1984, are a crowd favorite in Wisconsin and have members ranging in age from mid-50s to 77. (AP Photo/Kenny Yoo)
            
              Jan Kwiatkowski, a co-leader of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, smiles and swings pompoms as she marches in the Veterans’ Day parade in Milwaukee on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022. Kwiatkowski, 67, is a family therapist and ordained chaplain who has been a Dancing Granny since 2018. She offered to help lead the group as they have regrouped and rebuilt in the face of tragedy. Three Dancing Grannies and one group member’s husband were among those killed at a Christmas parade last November in Waukesha, Wis., when the driver of an SUV struck them on the parade route. Dozens more, including some Grannies, were injured. The Grannies plan to perform at this year’s parade with a vow to remain “Granny Strong!” (AP Photo/Kenny Yoo)
            
              A banner for the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies flutters in the wind as the Grannies march in a Veterans’ Day parade in Milwaukee on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022. The group dances to a number of songs, including “We Are Family,” “Pretty Woman” and “Old Time Rock and Roll.” They also have special routines and songs for holidays. (AP Photo/Kenny Yoo)
            
              Members of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies are reflected in glass as they prepare to march in a Veterans’ Day parade in Milwaukee on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022. The Grannies wore hats with the names of various branches of the military, along with stars-and-stripes vests. The group, who perform regularly at parades and events around Wisconsin, is a fan favorite. (AP Photo/Kenny Yoo)
            
              This combination photo shows a few members of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies after a performance in Milwaukee on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022. Top row from left are Janet Polley, 57; Debbie Bigler, 66; Kathi Schmeling, 62; Rosalinda Davis, 64. Bottom row from left are Betty Streng, 64; Kathy Gladfelter, 65; Doreen Lopez, 66; Jan Leisten, 71. (AP Photos/Martha Irvine)
            
              Tyler Pudleiner, left, a teen who was among those injured in a parade last year in Waukesha, Wis., stands with members of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies before a Veterans’ Day parade in Milwaukee on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022. The Grannies, who lost three members at that same Christmas parade, invited Pudleiner to help carry their banner. The driver of an SUV sped onto the Waukesha parade route Nov. 21, 2021, and hit and killed six people and injured more than 60 others. “I’ve said it from day one, that we're stronger than him. And in moments like this when we come together, we're showing it,” Pudleiner said. (AP Photo/Kenny Yoo)
            
              Kathi Schmeling, center, raises a pompom with other members of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies before a performance at Aurora St. Luke’s Hospital in Milwaukee on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2022. As a way of saying “thank you,” the Grannies performed for a neurosurgeon and other medical staff who helped save and rehabilitate Betty Streng, a member of the Dancing Grannies who sustained a serious brain injury when the driver of an SUV struck her and dozens of others at a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wis., last November. Six people were killed, including three Grannies and one group member’s husband. (AP Photo/Martha Irvine)
            
              Preparing for a performance with the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, Betty Streng puts on her shoes at her home in Greenfield, Wis., on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022. The Grannies wear white shoes for each performance, along with themed costumes, often for holidays. The outfit Streng is wearing is to honor Veterans’ Day. (AP Photo/Martha Irvine)
            
              Jan Kwiatkowski shows her “Granny Strong” tattoo after a Milwaukee Dancing Grannies practice in Milwaukee on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. Kwiatkowski has been a Dancing Granny since 2018 and is now one of the group’s leaders. The number “4” in the tattoo represents three group members and another member’s husband who were among those killed when the driver of an SUV struck them at a Christmas parade last November in Waukesha, Wisconsin. At events and after practices, Kwiatkowski, a family therapist and ordained chaplain, often encourages group members to form a circle and place their pompoms together as they shout “Granny Strong!” in unison. It has become their rallying cry since tragedy struck. (AP Photo/Martha Irvine)
            
              Betty Streng, a member of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, puts on makeup before a performance at her home in Greenfield, Wisconsin, on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022. Streng, 64, sustained a life-threatening brain injury when a driver of an SUV struck her at a Christmas parade last November in Waukesha, Wis. After surgery on her brain and extensive physical therapy, Streng is performing again with the Dancing Grannies. The group lost three members and one group member’s husband at the parade, where a total of six people were killed and dozens more were injured. Streng’s teammates call her an “inspiration.” (AP Photo/Martha Irvine)
            
              Betty Streng, a member of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, demonstrates dance steps to other group members at a practice in Milwaukee on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. Streng, 64, was struck and seriously injured at a Christmas parade last November in Waukesha, Wis. She is now one of the coaches for the group and, along with several other group members, plans to return to the Waukesha parade in early December. Streng, whose brain was bleeding after she was struck, says she still gets dizzy when she sits up too quickly — but, in many ways, has made a remarkable recovery. (AP Photos/Martha Irvine)
            
              The words “Keep On Dancing” decorate on the back of Kathi Schmeling’s jacket as she marches at a practice of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022, in Milwaukee. Schmeling, 62, ran from the street to avoid injury when the driver of an SUV sped through the route of a Christmas parade last November in Waukesha, Wisconsin. The Grannies decided to regroup and dance again, partly to honor the three members of their group who were killed at the parade. One group member’s husband also was struck and killed. Said Schmeling, “None of us had to keep on dancing. We chose to do it because it's the joy it brings that trumps the sorrow.” (AP Photo/Martha Irvine)
            
              Betty Streng practices with a video of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies at her home in Greenfield, Wis., on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. Streng, 64, nearly died from a serious brain injury when the driver of an SUV struck her and dozens of other people at a Christmas parade last November in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Still a Dancing Granny, Streng has made a remarkable comeback — and is performing again with her teammates. “Why would I not go back? Why would I limit my life because I'm afraid of something?” she asked. (AP Photos/Martha Irvine)
            
              Pam Junion, 65, and other members of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies practice in a parking lot in Milwaukee on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. Junion is one of a few women who answered a call for new members as the group attempted to rebuild in the face of tragedy. Three Dancing Grannies and one group member’s husband were among those killed at a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, when the driver of an SUV struck them on the parade route. Dozens more, including some Grannies, were injured. (AP Photo/Martha Irvine)
To heal after parade tragedy, the Grannies must march again