From the Tragic JCC Shootings, a Hero Emerges

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The shootings at a Jewish Community Center and a retirement home in Overland Park, KS, that left three dead Sunday have hit close to home at Club Industry.

To me, Paul Temme is a hero.

On his way to work out at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, KS, on Sunday, Temme confronted the gunman who killed two people in the JCC parking lot and a third person later that day. Temme called 911 and helped lead police to chase down the suspect.

You can watch Temme's harrowing eyewitness account in an interview with Fox 4 News of Kansas City. Or, you can read his story in this report by Christine Vendel of The Kansas City Star.  If you don't mind reading some of the graphic detail from Sunday's events, read this story. If you don't mind reading outstanding journalism turned in by one of the best in the business, read this story.

The tragedy from Sunday affects me in more ways than one. Because I'm a member of the JCC, because I belong to the temple located about a block from Village Shalom (the Jewish senior assisted living center where the other fatality occurred), because my daughters go to the elementary school in the same district where 14-year-old Reat Griffin Underwood went to high school, several notices and updates have landed straight in my inbox.

We followed Sunday's events on social media from the safety of our house. Our cousins were inside the JCC at the time and were later interviewed by the local NBC affiliate. That interview was picked up by The Today Show on Monday.

On Tuesday morning, two news trucks were in the parking lot of our elementary school when I dropped off my girls. A TV reporter and a cameraman stood on the other side of the parking lot, across the street from the high school, about to do a live shot.

Heading to the office, I made a short detour and drove by the entrance to the JCC, where a CNN news truck was parked. A couple of bouquets of flowers were left on the island of the JCC sign. An interfaith service is scheduled Thursday morning at the JCC, which reopened today.

We have been members of this JCC for almost eight years. For a few of those years, my wife was a JCC employee. I've made the turn into the now recognizable entrance of the JCC hundreds of times. In years past, this is where I headed each night from the office to pick up our girls from day care. Just two weeks ago, I made the turn into the JCC to renew our family membership.

Once you enter the main JCC entrance, you have to curve around to the right to get to the theater on the west side. This is the parking lot where the shootings took place. You walk down a few steps from the parking lot to get to the fitness center entrance, the tennis courts and the outdoor swimming pool. We've hosted numerous birthday parties at this swimming pool.

JCCs represent one of the many sectors in our fitness industry and are part of our coverage area here at Club Industry. We had a representative from the JCCs of North America at our CEO Summit last October. Active Sports Clubs, which recently acquired most of Club One, manages several JCCs throughout the country. This particular JCC—officially the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City—shares its tennis courts with members from a nearby Midtown Athletic Club, more proof that for-profits and nonprofits can coexist in our industry.

The presence of hatred and evil still exists in our world. The alleged gunman was a former Ku Klux Klan leader and founder of the White Patriot Party. He was charged Tuesday with one count of capital murder and a second count of premeditated first degree murder. None of his victims were Jewish.

Tuesday was the one-year anniversary of the bombings at the Boston Marathon, and we were again reminded of the agony and pain that terror brings. Other sorrowful anniversaries are this week. Virginia Tech is today. Oklahoma City is Saturday. Columbine is Sunday.

Next year, on April 13, will be the one-year anniversary of Overland Park, my hometown. We will remember Reat Griffin Underwood; his grandfather, William Lewis Corporon; and Terri LaManno, the woman who died at Village Shalom.

We also should recognize Paul Temme and all those who prevented this tragedy from becoming far, far worse.

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