On Wednesday October 12th members of the community and guests gathered at Trinity Hall at St. Patrick Catholic Church for the 15th annual Community Prayer Breakfast. The event began with Chesterton Police Chief David Cincoski leading the attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance. Rev. James Mead from St. Patrick Catholic Church delivered the invocation and breakfast was served. After breakfast Master of Ceremonies Mike Harris took a moment to recognize community leaders in attendance, the Community Prayer Breakfast Committee and to thank business and individual supporters of the event. Duneland Chamber of Commerce board chairman, Jim Starin to welcome guests and Cheryl Keller presented scripture readings. Mike Anton presented an inspiring Prayer for our Community, State and Nation. Mike Harris introduced the Keynote Speaker.
Ken Jennings suffered a broken neck in the opening kickoff of a football game in 1988 leaving him a quadriplegic. He chronicled his thoughts from the moment of impact through the long journey of recovery, discovery and difficulty to live a new and different abled life. Learning to talk, breathe on his own, and to operate the many assistive devices that now fill his daily routines was a tough, arduous battle. But in the initial stages, he and his family turned to God for guidance and it sustained them through the tough times. He cautions, “Don’t bother asking if I have any regrets about covering that kickoff... it’s the one question I’m asked repeatedly.
I’m truly blessed to be “able”. Whatever able is, God blessed me to be able to do it. There’s no doubt in my mind God left me on earth for a reason. I’m here to help others.” Jennings ultimately found his passion again and became a football coach at Simeon High School, the very school where he sustained his life altering injury. Jennings believes we all have special talents. “Some navigate the world walking, others navigate with assistive devices. It’s all just a matter of adapting to new circumstances, and finding our best lives.” He also founded and chairs the Gridiron Alliance “Architects of Human Possibilities”, an organization that advocates and provides support and education for those who have suffered catastrophic injuries in sports. The Gridion Alliance assists athletes in creating their new environment, navigating their way to their new normal and in discovering how they can help others. They also work with the athlete’s family friends, teachers and classmates. At the conclusion of Jennings’ message, Bill Dean of Youth For Christ offered the closing prayer.
Prelude music for the Prayer Breakfast was provided by Alexis Bratsakis and special music throughout the event was provided by the Camerata, an acapella vocal group from Chesterton High School. The Community Prayer Breakfast is held each fall in Duneland to provide inspiration and comfort. It is patterned after the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. Following the conclusion of the Prayer Breakfast, Jennings went to Chesterton Middle School where he spoke to an assembly of 7th and 8th graders that concluded with a standing ovation from the audience.