Three members of beloved Milwaukee Dancing Grannies among parade victims

In her small Wisconsin metropolis, Virginia Sorenson was a neighborhood movie star. The choreographer for the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies — grandmothers who don matching quick skirts and wave their pompoms to songs like “We Are Household” at parades — Sorenson was recognized for her generosity and the pep she put into performances.

“You met her, and she or he simply had this sparkle about her,” mentioned Michelle Meronk, who tutored Sorenson’s granddaughter and was steadily invited to household dinners with them. “She beloved to offer.”

Sorenson, 79, of Muskego, was one in all 5 folks killed Sunday when an SUV rammed by the Waukesha Christmas parade, a cherished annual custom within the Milwaukee suburb.

Among the many victims had been two different members of the Dancing Grannies: Leanna Owen, 71, and Tamara Durand, 52. One other sufferer, Wilhelm Hospel, 81, assisted the group with their exhibits, in keeping with The Related Press.

“Our group was doing what they beloved, performing in entrance of crowds in a parade placing smiles on faces of all ages, filling them with pleasure and happiness,” the Dancing Grannies mentioned in a assertion on their Fb web page Monday morning. “Those that died had been extraordinarily passionate Grannies.”

The group was based in 1984 and retains a busy schedule, performing in about 25 parades a 12 months between Memorial Day and Christmas, its web site mentioned. There is only one requirement to hitch: You have to be a grandmother.

When requested by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel what Sorenson favored concerning the group, her husband, David Sorenson, had a easy reply. 

“All the pieces,” he advised the newspaper, including that hip and again ache didn’t maintain her again. “She favored the instructing. She favored the dancing and the camaraderie of the ladies. She favored to carry out.”

Fellow member Owen helped lead the entrance of the group throughout performances, CBS Information reported. Durand, in the meantime, was a brand new member of the Dancing Grannies. Sunday was her first parade performing with them, her husband, Dave Durand, advised NBC Information. 

“She danced her approach by life, whether or not there was music or not,” he mentioned. “She had all kinds of humorous mixes about her. She’d eat Twinkies within the morning, after which she’d go run six miles, whether or not it’s 15 beneath or 85 above.”

The fifth particular person killed in Sunday’s tragedy, Jane Kulich, 52, was not a part of the dancing troupe. Her daughter Taylor Smith, 29, of Waukesha, described Kulich to NBC Information as a “goofball” who beloved their weekly household recreation nights and “all the time cheered us all up.”

Greater than 40 different folks had been injured. Authorities say the suspect, who has a felony historical past and was out on bail, deliberately drove by the parade route after leaving a home disturbance scene. A motive has not been launched.

In a Fb submit Tuesday morning, the Dancing Grannies thanked their supporters and mentioned their injured members had been in steady situation.

Dancing Grannies member Sharon Millard advised NBC’s “TODAY” present Tuesday that the group would persevere and honor the recollections of these killed.

“I feel what I would really like is for everybody to recollect how a lot pleasure they dropped at everybody,” she mentioned. “It’d take us a 12 months to tug again and get extra folks to hitch. However I do know in our hearts that we’re going to proceed.”

The members have mentioned their followers imply as a lot to them as they imply to their followers. In a 2016 interview with NBC affiliate TMJ4 in Milwaukee, Holly Habeck, then 75 and a grandmother of two, described performing as invigorating.

“The crowds love us. It’s wonderful. And what’s wonderful is what that does to us,” she mentioned. “Boy, that adrenaline begins going and also you simply need to do your very, best.”

Simply three months in the past, Sorenson and the remainder of the Dancing Grannies had been interviewed by CBS affiliate WDJT-TV in Milwaukee. Sorenson mentioned choreographing the group helped her get by a latest surgical procedure — even when she couldn’t dance.

“I really like dancing, and now that I can’t with my surgical procedure, it’s like I misplaced a finest good friend,” she mentioned. “However the Dancing Grannies had a spot for me right here.”

“I like it. I really like the women,” she added, tearing up. “They’re my household.”