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Concert Held in Memory of Domestic Violence Victim From Elizabethtown

Derry Presbyterian Church in Hershey recently held a trombone choir concert to benefit the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The event was in memory of Diana Ziegler (Heilner) who grew up in the Elizabethtown area and was killed in her York County home on Jan. 27, 2017, while she was pregnant with her second child.

There was no fee to attend the event, however, a free-will offering was held. Approximately 300 people were in attendance that evening and a total of $5,375 was donated to PCADV by the concert-goers.

The concert, titled the “Twelfth Night of Christmas,” featured a variety of traditional Christian Christmas carols including “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “Hark The Harold Angel Sings” as well as international, lesser known selections, such as the French carol “Il est né, le divin enfant,” which translates to “He is born, the heavenly child.” Christmas songs were selected to celebrate the Christian Epiphany, or the night the wise men visited the baby Jesus.

The event was coordinated by Jerry Heilner, Diana’s father, and the master of ceremonies for the evening was Brian Norcross, director of music for a church in Lancaster. The trombone choir featured 10 musicians from the area. The choir featured a variety of trombones including alto, bass and soprano. Before each selection a brief history of the piece was read by Norcross.

During the event, Norcross also gave mention to the impact Diana’s death had on the community.

“Many of us were left stunned and left asking ‘what can we do?’,” he said. “Tonight we can answer that question.”

Although the evening was reflective and somber, the master of ceremonies Norcross punctuated the event with humor. Before an international selection for example, Norcross said, “I grew up in New Jersey; I can barely speak English, let alone French.”

A brief presentation held mid-way through the concert was given by Executive Director of PCADV Susan Higginbotham, during which she shed light on the community impact of domestic violence.

“Society has a preconceived notion of what domestic violence looks like,” Higgenbotham said. “It deserves proper acknowledgement. One in four women will be victim to domestic violence and nearby half a million children will be exposed to it every year.”

Diana’s first child was 2 years old and was home at the time of the killing. Her husband, John D. Ziegler III, now 32, is awaiting trial on charges including first-degree murder; York County prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Higginbotham also commented on the generosity of the Heilner family.

“Thank you to the entire Heilner family,” she said. “We are inspired that the family has taken a horrible instance and turned it into an opportunity to bring about advocacy.”

Higginbotham also mentioned the end result of the monies received.

“Donations received this evening go directly to supporting our member programs and those on the front lines,” Higginbotham said.

In addition to the concert contributions, a number of local organizations including Hershey Entertainment and Resorts and Country Meadows restaurant also contributed to the event. Light refreshments were held following the concert, which were provided by Hershey’s Chocolate World.

Anyone interested in contributing to PCADV may do so by visiting their website – PCADV provides a 24-hour National Hotline – 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) to anyone who is in need of assistance regarding domestic violence. Services include exit strategies, counseling and emergency shelter.

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