Light after loss: Waunakee community comes together after mental illness, substance abuse deaths

Published: Feb. 19, 2022 at 10:59 PM CST
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VILLAGE OF WAUNAKEE, Wis. (WMTV) - The Village of Waunakee came together Saturday after what has been a difficult couple years in the community: losing people of all ages to depression and substance abuse. Community leaders want to ensure people struggling know there are resources to help, and a group of singers, speakers and storytellers known as Project Brave made that their mission Saturday.

After watching her community lose loved ones to mental illness and substance abuse, Waunakee resident Kerri Kane knew she had to do something.

“I had an idea a couple years ago when there was some loss, wouldn’t it be fun to bring light to the community?” she said. “Instead of gloom and doom and being sad about it, let’s do something to bring in positivity.”

Waunakee Project Brave was born. A collective of local singers, speakers and storytellers sharing resources and their experiences, including Michelle Kullmann. She lost her 18-year-old son Cade Reddington in November after taking what he thought was a Percocet pill. It turns out it was laced with fentanyl.

“He went to sleep on the bean bag chair, and he was dying right in front of everybody and nobody knew because nobody knew these fake pills will kill you,” Kullmann said during the event.

It’s stories like this that inspire Kerri to organize Project Brave.

“Let’s bring the community together because we have so many things available to us that we don’t even realize,” she said. “Talk about subjects and bringing things to light. We are not alone.”

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