dance troupe did more than entertain the crowds


MILWAUKEE, WI (WFRV) – The tragic loss of members of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies dance troupe during 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 grandmother was also seriously injured.

Jane Kulich, 52, also deceased, was a bank teller walking alongside a float when she was hit.

Many people know them for their creative costumes and cheerful participation in countless parades at any time of the year.

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

As a broadcaster in Milwaukee, I was always excited if my unit followed the dancing grannies. Their zest for life is so contagious.

But I also saw how generous they are when someone calls them for help.

It was while I was raising money for the Hunger Task Force food bank.

Every time I threw them a line asking if they could help bring attention to a food drive, summer or winter, a contingent of dancing grandmas 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 peach and pear donation campaign at the Wisconsin State Fair. Then they walked through the fairgrounds and helped raise 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 shone….joy of being a grandmother. They were the glue… holding us together.

They also thanked the community for their continued support.

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