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Sly James Loaned City Buses To Carry Families To JCC Shooting Memorial

Elle Moxley
Thousands commemorated the anniversary of the JCC shootings on April 13, including a large group connected to Operation Breakthrough who traveled to the event on loaned city busses.

When Sister Berta Sailor called Kansas City Mayor Sly James' cell phone a couple of weeks ago, he picked up.

The director of the child care and social service agency Operation Breakthrough told the mayor some of her patrons wanted to participate in events marking the one year anniversary of the shootings at Jewish sites in Overland Park — but there was a problem. The march and candlelight vigil were to start at the Jewish Community Center, and she didn’t have a way to get her people there.

“I told the Mayor ‘We need two city buses. Many of my families don’t have cars,'” Sister Berta said.

 Michael Grimaldi, the mayor’s spokesman, confirmed James did get the call, and that he said yes.

Two buses from the fleet of the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority picked up the group, including Sister Berta herself, at Operation Breakthrough on April 13.  A spokesman for the KCATA says no bus routes were disrupted because of the donation.

Credit Elle Moxley / KCUR
Kansas City Mayor Sly James, left, Lukas Losen and Overland Park Mayor Carl Gerlach listen as Rabbi Jonathan Rudnick offers a blessing. Losen's 14-year-old brother, Reat Underwood, and grandfather, William Corporon, died in the shooting last year.

Thousands of people from different races, ethnicities, faith communities and neighborhoods participated in the events that night.

More than 70 women, men and children connected to Operation Breakthrough were there.

“It’s an unspeakable tragedy, what happened out there last year, and we wanted to be with them,” Sister Berta said. “We look forward to the time we can gather in a similar way to mark the killings that go on here in our communities all the time.”

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