Cocoon event to hear from man who witnessed murder of mom and brother

William Kellibrew


BG Independent News

At age 10, William Kellibrew cowered on the stairway at this home, while his mother and 12-year-old brother were murdered in the living room by his mom’s ex-boyfriend. The killer took his own life, but only after making Kellibrew beg for his life at gunpoint.

That was in 1984.

Now at age 35, Kellibrew has devoted his life to sharing his story of healing and resiliency. He is a global advocate and authority on addressing violence and trauma.

On April 11, Kellibrew will bring his story to Wood County to help raise awareness and funding for the Cocoon, which provides support for victims of domestic violence.

He will talk about how he survived years of suicidal ideation and pain. Kellibrew credits his grandmother and others for supporting him on his life-long journey of healing. He will share how individuals supported and believed in him each step of his journey. And he will talk about how people can become those lifelines for other survivors.

“He’s an extremely powerful speaker,” said Robin Guidera, the development coordinator at the Cocoon.

“His message is about the healing and hope that survivors need. We can all be that person,” Guidera said.

Kellibrew has created a foundation, and has shared his story of survival and advocacy for victims in all types of forums including on the Oprah show.

His local visit will be part of the Cocoon’s annual “UnMasquerade” event – which focuses on exposing the violence and eliminating the shame of domestic violence.

The public is invited to attend the event on April 11, from 6 to 9 p.m., at Nazareth Hall, 21211 W. River Road, Grand Rapids.

Tickets are $75 each before April 1, and $100 each after April 1. Tickets for tables of eight are available for $800 before April 1. The tickets are on sale now at, or by calling the Cocoon office at 419-373-1730, ext. 1002, for more information or to reserve seats.

The event will include a dinner, cash bar, and an auction conducted by Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn.

Kellibrew’s advocacy has been acknowledged in many ways. In 2011 the White House recognized Kellibrew as a “Champion of Change,” and in 2013 the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Association awarded him the Voice Award for his work across the country as a peer/consumer leader. In 2014, he accepted the Capitol Probe Award at the District of Columbia Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, and in 2015 he received the U.S. Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus Eva Murillo Unsung Hero Award.