Democracy Soup

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Jill Peterson & Kevin Heinz turned wedding dance into helping domestic violence victims to earn Wings of Justice

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Originally published on on September 30, 2009

Jill Peterson and Kevin Heinz

Weddings are a time where couples tend to focus on themselves, the ceremony that officially begins a whole new life together.

Which makes the story of Jill Peterson and Kevin Heinz that much more spectacular.

Jill and Kevin got married in St. Paul, Minnesota on June 20 and had someone videotape their entrance dance. As part of the YouTube generation, they put the video online and it got a lot of notice.

Most YouTube videos have a life of their own, then quickly fizzle out. However, Jill and Kevin wanted the ending to be a little different. Jill and Kevin in their own words:

We have been through a lot in life, but have come through each experience stronger and more in love with each other. Our experience since we posted the video has been incredible. We would never have expected this response to our wedding entrance in a million years.

We hope to direct this positivity to a good cause. Due to the circumstances surrounding the song in our wedding video, we have chosen the Sheila Wellstone Institute.

Sheila Wellstone was an advocate, organizer, and national champion in the effort to end domestic violence in our communities.

We are so grateful for all the love, kind words, and joy that have been shared with us from around the world. It has moved us deeply and filled our hearts.

As of August 18, on what would have been Sheila Wellstone’s 65th birthday, the institute had received $16,498.69 from 674 donors from 47 states and more than 20 countries.

There was one issue from the video. The song in the video — Chris Brown’s “Forever” – was controversial because (for those who don’t follow pop culture) Chris Brown pled guilty to a felony involving an attack on his girlfriend, fellow R&B singer Rihanna.

At the same time, given Jill and Kevin’s background, the Sheila Wellstone Institute seems an extremely appropriate choice for donations.

“Jill’s current PhD work focuses on breaking cycles of violence in society. She has also worked in restorative justice and community mediation. Kevin is headed to law school due to his passion for social justice.”

Jill and Kevin were truly inspired by what Sheila Wellstone had done for domestic violence, and how the Institute became a legacy after his untimely death in the tragic plane crash in 2002 that also killed her husband, Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-MN). After all, the Wellstones were key players in the push for passage of the landmark Violence Against Women Act in 1994. In Sheila Wellstone’s own words:

“I find it absolutely intolerable to think that a woman’s home can be the most violent, most dangerous and oftentimes the most deadly place she can be.”

Jill Peterson and Kevin Heinz could have soaked in the fame that goes along with a successful YouTube video. But they chose to do something more, to help those who suffer from domestic violence. For stepping up, or dancing up, we award Jill Peterson and Kevin Heinz the Wings of Justice award.


Written by democracysoup

September 30, 2009 at 6:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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