'We are all traumatized': Raleigh pastor calls on power of community to heal pain of parade tragedy

DeJuan Hoggard Image
Tuesday, November 22, 2022
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"This is when we need to turn toward each other, rather than away from each other, and learn to embrace because we are a village. We are a community."

Just hours before the Club Q fatal shooting in Colorado, First Baptist Church pastor Dr. Dumas Harshaw Jr. received a call from family in Raleigh about the tragic death of an 11-year-old at the Raleigh Christmas Parade earlier in the day.

Harshaw was on the receiving end of the phone call while away on business in Denver and would soon have to address another unfortunate event.

"The demonstration of God's love and comfort is in community and sharing," said Harshaw as he recounted how the Raleigh community is coming together in the wake of the parade tragedy. "So we can bear burdens together as we understand the depth of the need of such circumstances."

Harshaw's granddaughters currently dance at CC & Company Dance Complex, where the young victim was a member.

"We are all traumatized by Hailey's passing so tragically. So young in this accident," said Harshaw. "This is when we need to turn toward each other rather than away from each other. And learn to embrace because we are a village. We are a community."

SEE ALSO: What inspections, policies were in place during the Raleigh Christmas Parade?

In that community are people like Raleigh's William Willden who attended the parade and was by his account some 30 feet away from the accident scene.

"I would be absolutely devastated if any one of my sons had gone through such an accident," said Willden.

So Willden created a post on Nextdoor to offer to help the victim's family.

"We cannot offer the ability to heal your heart, but we wish to help. Our family wants to make meals for yours as a small token of our empathy."

SEE ALSO: Driver charged in death of young performer at Raleigh Parade has history of vehicle violations

The post was created not long after news broke the young girl lost her life.

"I just knew there was a family out there who needed help and would have a tough time even just making dinner for themselves," said Willden. "Imagine going through this tragedy by yourself."

Willden did not anticipate his post would receive the amount of feedback and positivity it has.

"It's when people gather together they're at their strongest," he added. "Without some sort of support group, some sort of community, it's so incredibly challenging to go through these tragedies."

He plans to get connected with the family when the time is appropriate, allowing for them to grieve and respecting their right to privacy.