Local inspires Amy Grant charity concert


By Sarrah Peters, News Editor

In 1988, a student at Westminster Christian School in Rainbow City, now Westbrook Christian School, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She bwas offered a wish from Magic Moments.

The young girl, Maureen Willard, responded that she would like to pray about it. She eventually decided that she would like to meet singer Amy Grant, whose music Willard listened to during treatment, to help her get through. Willard’s goal for the trip was not, however, to meet her favorite singer, but to encourage her to perform  a concert to benefit Big Oak Ranch, a cause that was dear to Willard’s heart.

“The loving Christian environment of Westminster contributed significantly to the development of Maureen’s strong faith and commitment to Jesus Christ,” said Maureen’s father, Bill Willard. “After her illness made further studies impossible, work as a volunteer at the ranch gave meaning, purpose and fulfillment to her final days.”

According to a press release, “Big Oak Ranch is ‘a Christian home for children needing a chance.’ The Ranch was started in 1974 to provide abused, abandoned or neglected children the opportunity to live in a loving environment with a traditional family. Since it started, Big Oak Ranch has provided more than 2,000 children with a solid Christian home and a chance to fulfill God’s plans for their lives.”

Inspired by her meeting with Willard, Grant donated a horse named Yogi to the Big Oak ranch. Yogi became the Westbrook Christian Warrior mascot, often running onto the field before football games.

In February 1991, Willard passed away from the disease without her dream of a benefit concert coming to fruition, until now. After hearing the moving story, The Auxiliary of Big Oak Ranch decided that the perfect way to celebrate its 10-year anniversary was to put on a concert featuring Amy Grant. “We just really believe this is testimony of God’s faithfulness,” said Gail Garner, the Auxiliary’s second Vice President.

The concert will be held Tuesday, September 20 at 7:30 p.m. at the Leslie S. Wright Center of Samford University in Birmingham.

Tickets are available online at tickets.samford.edu or by calling 205-726-2853. Sponsorships for the concert are available by contacting Susan Taylor, Auxiliary Fundraising Chair, at susantaylor2204@yahoo.com or by calling 205-572-1234.

Donations to provide tickets for the children at the Ranch to attend the concert may be mailed to The Auxiliary Big Oak Ranch; P.O. Box 530887; Birmingham, AL 35253.

All proceeds go to benefit the Auxiliary’s work for the children of Big Oak Ranch, which includes graduation and holiday gifts,  stores where the children can exchange earned points for merchandise and more family support.

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