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Memorial Run/Walk honors 6 lives lost in Sikh Temple shooting: “I feel like I have to be here every year”

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OAK CREEK -- On Saturday morning, August 5th, members of the Oak Creek and Sikh community rallied together as they remembered six lives lost five years ago during the Sikh Temple shooting. They gathered for the 5th annual Chardhi Kala Memorial 6K Run/Walk at Oak Creek High School.

Pardeep Kaleka

"It's a lot of emotions, mixed emotions, but right now I'm celebrating," said Pardeep Kaleka, Oak Creek Sikh Memorial Remembrance organizer, and member of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek.

On August 5, 2012, a massacre took place at the gurdwara (Sikh temple) in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, where 40-year-old Wade Michael Page fatally shot six people and wounded four others. Page committed suicide by shooting himself in the head after he was shot in the stomach by a responding police officer.

Page was a white supremacist and Army veteran from Cudahy.

Chardhi Kala Memorial 6K Run/Walk

Apart from the shooter, all of the dead were members of the Sikh faith. Kamal Kaur lost her dad and her uncle in the attack.

"I feel like I have to be here every year helping out. It's something that helps me take the pain away, and it helps the community," Kaur said.

A free event, members of the Sikh community asked for nothing in return. However, they encouraged the roughly one 1,000 people who showed up to donate to charity in the form of food, blood and scholarship money.

Chardhi Kala Memorial 6K Run/Walk

"We continue the momentum that the Sikh community helped kick off in Oak Creek -- of us being one and a diverse and dynamic community," a participant said.

Chardhi Kala Memorial 6K Run/Walk

Banners lined the walls along the starting line -- filled with messages of hope, love and support from not only across the country, but all around the world.

"If we're all comfortable into our buffer zones, we can't have progress," Kaleka said.

While most ran, others walked. Success was measured by a diverse group of people having uncomfortable conversations about healing and growing the community.

"I know that everything happens for a reason. It's not what we want, but it's good that it's bringing the community together and doing such good things for us," Kaur said.

Chardhi Kala Memorial 6K Run/Walk

It was a morning of incredible acts of selflessness from those who had so much taken from them five years ago.

Chardhi Kala Memorial 6K Run/Walk

5 year anniversary of the shooting at Sikh Temple of Wisconsin

The donated non-perishable food items during Saturday's event all went to the Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin. All blood donations went to the BloodCenter of Wisconsin and will stay here in the state.

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