Nicole Spewak | News Editor
Zach Dunton and Wheaton College sophomore Kelsie Wendelberger want you to know that heroes aren’t just in movies; anyone can be a hero. This is why, in the wake of the shooting at the midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo., Dunton and Wendelberger created the group Ordinary Heroes – Ordinary People Being Extraordinary in Times of Need.
The duo wanted to give observers a way to be involved with what was happening on the TV screen.
“It’s not that they don’t care about the people affected ... (ordinary bystanders)simply don’t have a way or means to help,” said Wendelberger in an email.
On Aug. 3, Ordinary Heroes organized a fundraiser in conjunction with Freeman Friday Night Live and the Waukesha, Wisc. Downtown Business Association, providing people with an outlet to become ordinary heroes. Wendelberger and Dunton sold stickers at a booth for a minimum donation of $1 that read, “I am an ordinary hero.” Through their efforts on that night and the following Saturday, $2,100 in donations was raised to support the Aurora Victim Relief Fund.
On Sunday, Aug. 5, another shooting occurred at the Oak Creek Sikh Temple in Milwaukee, Wisc. The following Friday, Wendelberger and Dunton shifted their focus to this new tragedy, raising $1,255.55 for the Sikh Temple Victim Relief
Fund. On Aug. 26, the two visited the Oak Creek Sikh Temple and presented members with the collected funds.
“I have never felt a greater sense of unity and togetherness like I did at the Sikh temple. ... It shouldn’t take a situation like this to bring people together, but since this has happened, it is an opportune chance for the world to pledge unity, restore peace, and renew love,” Wendelberger said.
The money will go to the Sikh Temple Victim Relief Fund to repair the temple and to provide the shooting victims with a better future through grief counseling, medical expense coverage and funeral costs. The money for the Aurora victims similarly went to cover medical costs, grief counseling and financial support to restore those affected back to a normal life.
The motto of Ordinary Heroes is a quotation from Batman in the film “The Dark Knight Rises”: “A hero can be anyone, even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a young boy’s shoulders to let him know the world hasn’t ended.”
Wendelberger and Dunton want people to step out and make even these small gestures of encouragement because, as they wrote in an online post, “We are all global citizens: When anyone hurts, anywhere, everyone hurts, everywhere.”
Ordinary Heroes has a Facebook page at Facebook.com/OrdinaryHeroesFund and also a Twitter account, @_OrdinaryHeroes, through which people can stay informed on further outreach to those in need. The Facebook page also provides information on how to make donations that will go to the Aurora Victim Relief Fund and the Sikh Temple Victim Relief Fund. Supporters can purchase a T-shirt for $10 or a bracelet for $5.
“While we will once again go into action when another catastrophe occurs, we hope that our actions inspire others to do the same, doing what they can where they are in their community to help restore and renew the world,” said Wendelberger, explaining how, like Batman, the Ordinary Heroes will rise whenever the world needs them.
Photo courtesy Kelsie Wendelberger
Printed in the September 7, 2012, issue of The Wheaton Record. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.