Some of you may remember when I announced that my book, Assault On Saint Agnes, had taken Second Place in the Athanatos Ministries Christian Novel Contest. There was a prize that went with the contest, and I’d like to tell you the story behind what happened to the money.
During the early part of 2013 I was entered in more than one writing contest. Lots of prize money was up for grabs between all of the entries if I were blessed enough to win. One morning, very early, I was watching Fox & Friends when an advertisement for the Wounded Warrior Project came on the air. In one of those moments that are accompanied by dramatic lighting and a voice over from God in the movies, I realized it wouldn’t be my money if I won. I offered any winnings I got during 2013 to God and promised Him that I’d donate them to a charity like Wounded Warrior.
The win came as a surprise. I was honored enough to be a finalist in the Athanatos contest. Along with the potential for being published and some prize money, there were a series of critiques that came as part of the entry fee. I was extremely lucky to have Dylan as my mentor during this time. He, and his lovely mother, provided criticism that I needed to hear. It resulted in a new title, a much leaner book, and a second place finish.
Anthony Horvath, the director of the ministry, contacted me about cutting a check for the prize money. He was clearly surprised when I told him to just send it directly to Wounded Warrior Project. I was delighted to do that: they needed the money more than I did.
A few weeks went by and Anthony contacted me again. He wondered if I was firmly wedded to any one charity. I told him that I wasn’t, and as long as it benefited wounded members of the military it was good with me. That’s when Anthony told me about Sgt. Davin Dumar. And he wondered if I’d like to see the donation go to a group known as Operation Finally Home.
It didn’t take much research to decide that they were a great choice. Anthony and I went back and forth on plans to travel to Michigan to award a check to the organization and meet Sgt. Dumar. Anthony had known Davin for a while through his family, and the plan was to go to a barbecue and meet the people who’d helped build the home he’d received. I thought it would be fun, and I’d get a chance to possibly meet Kid Rock.
One thing led to another and things moved along slowly. Until just a month ago when I hopped on a plane bound for Detroit on a Saturday afternoon. Anthony picked me up at the airport and we spent the evening with his family in Michigan. Truly wonderful people who put me up in their home and fed me as well.
Sunday was more than a barbecue. The people who own Art Van, a Michigan furniture retailer, had taken the event to a new level. We got to the location and found a full blown party in progress. Face painting for the kids (I wisely avoided the Spiderman look – but it was stunning) and a band for the adults. Heck, we were even treated to a parachute team of military veterans that dropped into the parking lot. Full throttle!
They were kind and gracious people. And generous. During the event they awarded full houses of furniture to some of the veterans who had been wounded overseas. Good men who’d given chunks of themselves for you and me. The kind of men I was humbled to hang out with for just a few hours.
At the conclusion of the event, Davin Dumar introduced Anthony to the crowd for the presentation of the checks. You see, the first place winner of the Athanatos contest had donated part of his winnings to the event as well. His name is Robert Milton, and I’m only sorry that he had a previous engagement and couldn’t join us.
I was permitted to say a few words to the crowd as well. And to shorten the whole thing it comes down to this: We are a blessed nation to have warriors who will stand in our stead on the line of battle. Men and women who will give their all for us. I’m able to cheer from the sidelines these days, my service is long in the past. And I thank God for the opportunity to make my blessing touch a few of them along the way.
Today, more than ever before, won’t you take a few minutes to pray for our warriors? Take a moment to ask God for their protection, and perhaps make a donation to Operation Finally Home. I surely feel blessed to have had that gift.