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Hope flowers as shooting survivor raises funds for victims



Getting caught up in their worst nightmare, South African-born Candice Crane was so relieved that she survived the bloodshed and loss of the Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois, she made a plan to help the family of those who didn’t.

“Local businesses like mine, Petal Sparkling Botanicals, have committed proceeds to help the victims and their families,” says Crane. On Instagram, she told her followers, “All proceeds from all the sales on our website from Friday 8 July to Sunday 10 July will be donated to the families and victims of the tragic shooting in our hometown of Highland Park, Illinois.”

Crane grew up in America, so she and her family were excited to celebrate American Independence Day. They had no idea that their day of fun and community was going to turn into a nightmare of bloodshed and loss.

She and her daughter found themselves fleeing a mass shooting. Her husband and baby hid in an apartment. Her parents, Mike and Stephanie Levy (who emigrated from Johannesburg in the 1980s) rushed into the fray to find them all. By some miracle, none of them were hurt, but they are still deeply affected by the tragedy in which seven people lost their lives and scores were injured.

As soon as the dust settled, Crane and her husband, Aaron, decided to help the victims.

“My heart is broken for our community and the victims,” she told the SA Jewish Report this week. “Luckily, we were about two blocks away so we weren’t in the hot zone, but we did run like anything. My six-year-old and I hid in a vacant store under a counter and my husband and baby hid in a very nice woman’s apartment building. We were separated because I had just taken my daughter to the bathroom. Never in a million years did I think this could happen in my town. We’re trying to recover and move on simultaneously. I’m inspired by how our community has come together to heal and to help those in need.”

Her business has deep roots in her family history. “The idea of creating a line of sparkling botanical beverages was inspired by my two grandmothers and their love for tea. My grandmother, René, a true rebel who ran away at 16 to marry the man of her dreams, often sipped rose petal tea and always served different types of teas in the afternoon. Grandmother Zelda sewed her own enchanting floral tea blends into sachets.”

Meanwhile, Crane says, “The week has been a rollercoaster – very foggy yet seriously uplifting to see how our community and surrounding communities come together to support Highland Park. More than 500 therapists have dedicated their time to give free counselling at our local Highland Park High School. There have been vigils, memorials and services. The local sports teams are all wearing Highland Park jerseys. On the one-week anniversary, the town was packed with people who came to stand for a moment of silence.”

The events hit close to home – literally. “Unfortunately, I know four people who were shot,” says Crane. “They are recovering. Among them is my high school English teacher. Another woman’s heel was completely shattered, and another friend was shot in the pelvis, but luckily none of her organs were hit.”

There has been a good response to their appeal to raise funds for the victims. “We had 98 orders on our website alone this weekend, and all the proceeds are going to the families,” Crane says.

Her six year old, who hid with her under the counter during the shooting, “is doing well and has been going to summer camp every day. There are some kids that have been more affected. Everyone’s response is different.”

Crane will be part of a group of 100 local survivors who are flying to Washington DC “to tell our stories to congressmen and the White House. The goal is to ban assault rifles at federal level. Most importantly, we need more safety measures in public and private places. Also, we need to support the community with mental health services, now and ongoing.”

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