We are Highland Park Strong: 5 Ways to Help our Community from Afar After the July 4th Parade Tragedy

We are Highland Park Strong!

While July 4th, 2022 was one of the most tragic and sad days our community has ever witnessed, we remain Highland Park STRONG. I am not going to relive the horrendous and violent acts set upon all the community members who went to our July 4th parade with excitement and left in terror, but that day has changed our entire town forever. Unimaginably, there were seven individuals who were senselessly murdered, dozens of parade goers were shot and injured, and so many of our friends and their children are traumatized after running for their lives and hearing the sound of gunshots.

My family wasn’t at the parade though we were supposed to be there and have gone every year. My husband and I sure are counting our blessings that our kids were spared from that first degree trauma. With that said, I’ve personally been struggling and am very affected. This isn’t just close to home – this IS my home.

I grew up 20 minutes away but have frequented Highland Park’s adorable downtown area my entire life, whether it was walking around and shopping the main streets with my family on the weekends, eating at one of the many delish HP restaurants on any given night, or even taking extra-curricular classes in the community, I have felt connected to Highland Park from a young age. My husband, who is from Rochester, NY, loved it from the day he came here for the first time when he was invited to his boss’s home for a Jewish high holiday. He always said the mature trees and neighborhoods within HP reminded him of where he grew up. Almost 6 years ago we moved here with Brody {and I was pregnant with Levi} to start a life as a young family!

Highland Park really is special.

We have Ravinia Festival, Rosewood Beach, the downtown area is always happening, we have Food Truck Thursdays and my favorite day of the week is Wednesday because of the one and only Ravinia Farmer’s Market. We celebrate all the big holidays as a community.

Of course you know about our 4th of July parade but there is also an annual Halloween event where families and kids walk the downtown area trick or treating for candy from all the local small shops, and during Christmas time we have a tree lighting ceremony, too! Moreover, families can ride the Polar Express train through the HP area – with Santa – during the winter, and we have so many other great family friendly community events that take place all year long.

We also have Highwood, which brings a really fun nightlife scene, tucked right into our little town. Oh, and the parks – we have soooo many amazing and wonderful parks for the kids, many of which I cover in my blog post sharing 11 local parks in Chicago’s North Shore that you need to go to!

I could actually go on and on about how unique and noteworthy Highland Park is. Never in a million years would anyone think a shooting of any kind would happen HERE. Like, what?! Well, let me tell you – if it could happen in our adorable small town that has so much to offer, it can happen in yours. The answer: we need to work harder to create change that bans guns once and for all.

Assault weapons are the problem.

Assault weapons have one purpose – mass casualty. They don’t belong in civilian hands. They just do not. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that any person living in any town who has sadly been through what Highland Park has would agree. Want to help our community from afar to make sure HP is the last place in our country where an assault weapon was used to kill many? It starts with this…

Join your local activism groups

Moms Demand Action

March Fourth


Joint Action Committee (JAC)


Contact your local and state representatives

First, find your representatives and then call them.

Say this:

I am calling to encourage you to support the Assault Weapons Ban of 2021 [H.R.1808 if calling House or S. 736 if calling Senate]. I urge you to push for its passage. Assault and semi assault weapons do not belong in our communities or anywhere in American society.

{Script is from my friend Rachel!!}

I recommend calling daily. It is super fast. Plug these representatives into your phone contacts and designate the first 5 minutes of your day to making the calls. Each call takes 30-60 seconds, that’s it!

Buy a Highland Park Strong yard sign to display in front of your property

I found a seller on Etsy who was selling Highland Park Strong signs. I messaged him to ask his company would consider donating all their net proceeds of the yard signs to the GoFundMe that was launched by the HP community, where 100% of what they collect will go directly to the families of the deceased AND the injured of the July 4th mass shooting. He agreed to donate $5 from every sale of this particular yard sign to the Highland Park, IL Parade Shooting Victims Fund!!!!! Buy your Highland Park Strong yard sign now via Etsy!

Keep yourself informed on the latest #HPStrong news

HP Strong Website

Help Highland Park Website

Highland Park E-News

Google Doc by Isa Spoerry

Support verified fundraisers

**GoFundMe HP Parade Shooting Verified Fundraisers Page** – all the verified fundraisers in one place!

All-Victims Fund – funeral costs, medical bills, and mental health support for all victims + families (in collaboration with Victims First)

Highland Park, IL Parade Shooting Victims Fund – organized by Victims First

Adan Aguilar – medical expenses for surgery

The Cooper Roberts Family Fundraiser – Keely Roberts and her 8-year-old son, Cooper, were greatly impacted by the tragic events of this past Monday. Tragically, both members of the Roberts family were shot while attending the 4th of July parade in Highland Park. Keely was seriously injured and has endured several surgeries. She will undergo more surgery and possible long term medical issues, but will mostly recover. Cooper was shot and his spinal cord was severed. After undergoing many surgeries, he is currently in critical condition, but stable. However, the doctors have determined that he will be paralyzed from the waist down.

Silvia Vergara – medical expenses for hospital visit

Alan Castillo – medical expenses for surgery

Support the family of Jacki Sundheim – funeral expenses and living expenses

Lilli Carrasco – medical and therapy expenses

Irina and Kevin McCarthy – financial support for newly-orphaned Aiden McCarthy (2 years old) + caregivers

Medical/Funeral Expenses (Guzman family) – medical expenses for several family members.

Medical bills for the Kolpack & Joyce Family – 4 family members hospitalized

Nicolas Toledo – funeral expenses for first named victim of shooting

Red Oak Student – Medical Expenses for a Rising 6th Grader Christian & his mother

Jamie Mazariegos – Help with living expenses for 14 year old and soon to be DHS student who was shot

The Stephen Straus Highland Park Family Fund – funeral and memorial expenses

Final Thoughts

What happened on the 4th was a terrible, horrid, bloody day in our sweet town of Highland Park, and while none of us affected will ever be the same, and we most certainly won’t forget it, I hope our community will be remembered for coming together, stepping up to the plate and advocating for positive change in our country. I also hope that this blog post gives YOU more insight to our community and I want to personally thank you for helping our mission from afar.

If you’d like to listen to my full 4th of July story that I shared in it’s entirety in a video that I posted on Instagram, please do.

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