Milwaukee Dancing Grannies remembered for efforts to feed the hungry

Local News

MILWAUKEE, WI (WFRV) – The tragic loss of members of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies dance troupe in the Waukesha Christmas Parade has brought new attention to the treasures these women are to the community.

The victims have been identified as Virginia Sorenson, 79, who was also a mother and grandmother to five members of the Glencastle Irish dance company. She was responsible for much of the grannies’ choreography.

Leanna Owens, 71, is described as one of the most passionate members of the group and Tamara Durand, 52, was new to the group.

Wilhelm Hospel, 81, was a supporter of the group.

Another grannie was also badly hurt.

Jane Kulich, 52, who also died was a bank teller walking along a float at the time she was struck.

Many people know them for their creative costumes and joyful participation in countless parades at all times of the year.

But I know firsthand that they did so much more for the community and the most vulnerable in our community; hungry children.

As a broadcaster in Milwaukee, I was always excited if my unit was following the dancing grannies. Their zest for life is that infectious.

But I also got to witness firsthand just how generous they are when somebody calls on them for help.

It was while I was a fundraiser for the Hunger Task Force food bank.

Whenever I dropped them a line asking if they could help bring attention to a food drive, either in the summer or winter, a contingent of dancing grannies was sure to show up.

Remarkably, they also gave their money in addition to their time and talent.

They donated nearly $1,000 of their own money to help with a peaches and pears donation drive at the Wisconsin State Fair. Then they marched through the fairgrounds and helped collect even more money to buy even more food for local families.

On their Facebook page, the grannies noted how those who died “were extremely passionate Grannies. Their eyes gleamed…..joy of being a Grannie. They were the glue….held us together.”

They also thanked the community for its continued support.

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