Extended family becomes new normal after crash kills parents

Extended family becomes new normal after crash kills parents

When 3-year-old Wesley rushes home from school, he runs straight into the arms of Sara Grunzel, and calls her mommy.

Wesley looks just like dad, and his athleticism matches. His sister, 1-year-old Charlotte, has a glare that could kill and a smile that melts your heart.

You would never know the two kids lost their parents last year.

“They’re still here. They’re still here in Wesley and Charlotte. They’re still here in everybody else who loved them,” Grunzel said.

Friday marks one year since Bram and Shari Dorresteijn died as a result of a fatal crash on the interstate. Sara, Shari’s sister, adopted the two kids immediately after. Now Sara, her husband Geoff, and her two boys live under one roof in Sussex.

“It’s transitioning to a new normal. That’s what it is. This is life now, you know?” Grunzel said.

The community support over the last year has been overwhelming. A GoFundMe page raised nearly $225,000 to support the two children, and Sara hasn’t had to purchase a single diaper thanks to all the donations.

Bram’s sister, Tessa Dorresteijn, wanted to find another way for people to get invested in Bram and Sheri’s legacy. With that, friends and family are planning to start a scholarship fund in the couple’s memory. The hope is to start helping two University of Wisconsin athletes a year with tuition.

“They (Bram and Shari) gave 110 percent effort in everything that they did, in parenting, in their hobbies, in their work, in their relationship together. That’s certainly what I strive to do in my daily, you know, whatever it is,” Tessa Dorresteijn said.

A group of 136 people will also be running and walking in Saturday’s Crazy Legs event under the name “Dorresteijn Dashers.” Bags of T-shirts and running numbers are lining the walls of Dan Werner’s home, ready for pickup. Werner met Bram playing soccer in high school and was his roommate in college.

Werner said the team and the scholarship are ways for friends and family to focus on the good during this emotional weekend.

“Though at times, I look at Wesley and I see Bram. That’s all I see when I look at him, which is hard, but at the same time it’s good,” Werner said.