By Frank Lewis
Not a cloud in the sky, nor a drop of rain even hinted at appearing during the Praise in the Park event sponsored by Living With A Cause Saturday in Tracy Park. Hundreds turned out to enjoy the food, the live music and the free school supplies. But to the organizer it was an actual answer to prayer.
“We’re just hoping that everybody in the community can learn to come together and help each other and to make sure that we can have our own sport that we like, our own job, anything, but we can always have one thing in common, to help each other; to make sure we eat; to make sure we have what we need and to worship our Lord,” Angela Ward said. “That just means everything to me. That’s everything that I want. I know who to thank.”
Two duet performers came together on the stage to form a quartet much to the delight of those in attendance. Kendall and Debbie Woodard joined with Dan and Debbie Ward to perform some Christian classics as well as some newer songs. David and Derek Hammond took to the stage and had the crowd clapping their hands and several other people performed.
Chance Bittinger was meticulously applying face paint to the faces of the children, Josh Justice was cooking up the hot dogs, a couple of games of cornhole were going on and volunteers wearing “Living With A Cause” shirts were serving up lots of food.
“Living With A Cause is a program that is spreading across America more and more,” director, Mike Gifford said. “I am so enthusiastic about it because it’s an individual program that started here in Portsmouth, Ohio many years ago and my dream has finally come true. It’s growing all over the United States.”
Thanks to social media exposure and simple word of mouth, Living With A Cause groups are making a difference in many states and even other countries.
“We’ve got a little girl in a wheelchair in Minnesota that is getting to race in a race,” Gifford said. “Before Living With A Cause got involved, she was not allowed to race in the race, but because of Living With A Cause members there they are making a difference.”
The cause has spread even to the west coast.
“In California a man we are going to honor at the (Living With A Cause) Theater (in Wheelersburg) in August, Gib Bolton, formerly of Portsmouth gets up every day through the week and he honors our Marines that are going out,” Gifford said. “He gives them dog tags. He has given out over 25,000. Every day he lives with a cause at 73 years old he does that and he doesn’t charge a dime. I’m proud of these people.”
Gifford said he was in hopes to get the names of needy families at the park and to make sure they are provided the assistance they need in the future.
“It’s about people,” Gifford said. “People do it all. I’m proud of the volunteers who worked to make this day special.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.