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Editorial: Great healers: Time, and compassionate people

What a difference a year makes. Remember these front-page headlines from last summer in the Journal?: “Sisters found dead at home,” “Accused father could face life in prison” and “To Kill: ‘The final act of control.’”

Leap ahead to last week’s front-page Journal headline: “Joy from Sorrow/Community comes together at Tri-Angels 5K Fun Run.”

River Falls Police estimated that more than 3,000 - about the population of Ellsworth - swarmed into Hoffman Park on Saturday morning, July 20, for a running fundraiser that took in more than $55,000.

The money goes into a pot being collected to build a playground for use by all children, even those with special needs. It will be divided into sections named for each of three Schaffhausen sisters - Amara, Sophie and Cecilia.

Jessica Schaffhausen, the girls’ mother, participated in the July 20 Hoffman Park fun run. She later took the microphone to publicly address and give thanks to the huge crowd for its outpouring of support and generosity.

With the murder trial over and Aaron Schaffhausen sentenced to prison for life with no parole, attention has totally switched to fulfilling the vision of a very practical playground that memorializes the three young sisters.

Jessica’s parents from Illinois, Becky and Phil Stotz, are heading up the Tri-Angels Park Advisory Committee.

The committee’s task is to keep the momentum going to finance the $500,000-plus playground at a site still to be determined in River Falls.

Other committee members include: Pam Bellrichard, St. Croix County victim advocate; Jerry Wilkens, former River Falls mayor and owner of Jerry’s Inc.; Cindi Danke, River Falls recreation coordinator; Phil Pfuehler, Journal editor; Chuck Rupnow, Leader-Telegram reporter; Kevin Flynn, First National Bank; Todd Schultz, River Falls State Bank; Tom Westerhaus, former River Falls School District superintendent; Shelly Rinehart, Dick’s Plus Hometown Liquor; Jon Aubart, River Falls Police investigative supervisor; Joni Pearson, Pearson Florist; and recent River Falls High School graduates Samantha Jensen and Hannah Bellrichard.

The next notable fundraiser is a sale of artwork by Amara, Sophie and Cecelia during a showing downtown at Gallery 120, from 4-8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9. All proceeds go to the playground project.

Of course none of this brings back the lost lives of three innocent children. But one year later, seeing how people’s energy and focus has transformed, shows that good can emerge, grow, and eventually cover up and replace the bad. Right now we’re in the midst of this inspiring transformation.