PazNaz’s Special Needs Ministries’ annual fundraiser, Love Walk & Roll, is just around the corner. Each year this event raises money to send special needs families to a summer retreat, provides funding for the PazNaz Wheels basketball program, and funds scholarships for siblings and parents to attend events.
Over the years, Love Walk & Roll has impacted many people, both those with special needs and those without. It has been a dream of mine to see individuals and families from the PazNaz community go beyond the walls of the church and tap into their own community connections. I believe this is important for a couple of reasons. First, it helps spread the word about the mission of PazNaz’s Special Needs Ministries. Secondly, it gives people not directly connected to PazNaz an opportunity to contribute.
My family has seen this impact personally over the years as friends and colleagues of my husband, Jeff, have given to our son Dade’s fundraising campaign. These individuals have seen the importance of what the funds provide and want to make an impact in the lives of those we are blessed to serve. Jeff and Dade started their original fundraising campaign with the slogan, “Dollars for Dade.” Jeff challenged friends, family, and colleagues to give just a dollar. It really is true that $1 can make a difference. Many people gave a $1 while others contributed more.
Of course, there are many others who have similar stories of reaching out to friends, family, and neighbors to share the message about PazNaz’s Special Needs Ministries. One such story is that of the Velazquez family. I was so encouraged by their story from last year’s Love Walk & Roll that I wanted to share it with you.
We are overjoyed at how God used our family to help raise money for PazNaz’s Special Needs Ministries through their annual Love Walk & Roll. Led by Pastor Julie Keith, this ministry is dedicated to the spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of God’s unique children, adults, and their families. It is designed to provide an environment of acceptance and belonging.
We have been participating in PazNaz’s Love Walk & Roll with our sons for the past two years because we feel that raising money and taking part in this event is not only a great way to help out an amazing ministry, but it is also a way to teach our children about people with special needs. The Love Walk & Roll has been a place where we have been able to meet and interact with some of the families in this ministry, and our hope is that our kids will be more accepting and compassionate people because of it.
Last year we had something really special happen to us. As the weekend of the walk approached, we realized that we hadn’t put very much energy into collecting money for it. Honestly, I think everyone struggles with asking others for money. We had already donated personally and our usual family members had donated a little, but we did not have much more than that. I was thinking and praying about how we could do more. I just kept picturing the families we were doing it for. And then God spoke to my heart and gave me the idea to write a simple, friendly letter explaining the ministry and then put it in a few of our neighbors’ mailboxes with a donation form.
A few days before the walk, we dropped the letters off as we were taking our boys to school. When we returned home, we found an envelope with a check from one of our neighbors for $1,000. Initially, we thought we had read it wrong or that it was a mistake, but it was written out, “one thousand dollars.” I walked over to our neighbor’s house to thank him for the generous gift. As it turns out, our letter arrived at the perfect time for him! Our neighbor had been reconnecting with God at this time in his life and started praying about his sick dog. He felt his prayers were being answered as his dog was starting to get better. He was so happy and thankful that when he got our letter in the mail, he felt it was a sign and an opportunity for him to give back. So he was moved to write that check for Special Needs Ministries.
For us this was a great testament to God’s provision and timing, as well as another lesson and reminder for us to step out of our comfort zone and let God take over. We had already experienced the beautiful things that can take place when you let go and trust in God when he led us to become foster parents through Child S.H.A.R.E. four years ago that eventually led to the adoption of our wonderful son. This was just one more awesome example of how God works in us through his perfect timing.
– The Velazquez Family
Victor, Keri, Ithiel, and Immanuel
I am so thankful for stories like this one from the Velazquez family. As this year’s Love Walk and Roll approaches, I encourage you to plan to walk or roll to raise funds, serve at the event, and/or pray for the impact it will have on those with special needs and their families. What story will you have to tell? I can’t wait to hear it and see all that God is going to do once again through the faithfulness of his people as we seek to know Christ and join him on mission in our local and global neighborhoods.
– Pastor Julie Keith
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