ARCADIA–A crowd of nearly 200 family members gathered in the Arcadia High School gym on Saturday, April 17th for the 35th Annual Family Banquet. After thanking the many sponsors and individuals who continue to make this banquet possible year after year, Master of Ceremonies, Rolen Sell, introduced Gavin Sell, a member of the senior class at Arcadia High School, to deliver the Invocation. A delicious beef brisket meal was served by Whitefoot Catering from Boelus, NE. Following the meal, Joanie Kohls from Litchfield captivated the audience through her sign language interpretation of the lyrics to four contemporary Christian songs. Then this year’s keynote speaker, Kim Penny from Durango, CO, came to the podium.
Kim began her talk by telling about her early life as an athlete and cheerleader, her marriage to a Husker football player, and their hopes and dreams of the future as they settled in their new home in the Colorado Rockies. Their situation changed instantly when Kim was severely injured when a snow tube she was riding high in the mountains collided with a tree. The impact drove her right foot and leg well up into her midsection. With no cell service, two friends made a snowshoe journey up to a high point on the mountain where 911 could be called. Kim laid in the snow for four hours before rescuers were able to reach her, put her on a sled, and snowmobiled her to a waiting ambulance for the trip to the hospital and a life flight on to Denver. At this point, she had no idea if she would survive and, if she did, if she would ever walk again or be able to have a family.
Kim then began to talk about all of the fears and frustrations she endured and about how they affected her recovery and impacted her outlook on life. She said she went through a lot of denial, guilt, and shame trying to put on a front for family and friends. She allowed the fear…the “what ifs”…to consume her. One night God presented her with an extremely vivid dream in which she saw herself pulling jagged pieces of glass out of her mouth. She likened the glass to the trauma, guilt, and shame she was living in. She then realized that God was telling her she needed to first forgive herself, quit wasting time, and start looking for the blessings she had… of still being alive and in being healed. A former youth pastor, another very kind friend, and her bible helped her turn her life around. She began praying and journaling.
During this same time period, Kim had three close friends who committed suicide. To drive her point home, she had three of the senior boys who were present come up front. She handed each one a paper on which she had written a brief epilog of these three victims and had each one of the boys read it, as if they were the victim speaking. Kim went on to encourage the audience to be aware of the needs and problems of the people in our lives. She is spending a lot of time now speaking to young people to encourage them that there is always hope where the love of Christ abounds. She is also enjoying time with her twin daughters whom she thought, at one time, she would never be able to have. Kim gave a lot of credit for where she is today to the love of God, the support of family, and the persistence learned in athletics.
Kim closed by saying that we are all broken but we are all valued. She shared a quote from Christine Caine #LiveUnashamed: “Hurt people hurt people, but helped people help people. Broken people break people, but rebuilt people build people. Shattered people shatter people, but whole people restore people. Damaged people damage people, but loved people love people. Wounded people wound people, but healed people bind up wounds. Bound people bind people, but freed people lead others to freedom.”
Following her talk, Kim answered questions from the audience. She then sold autographed copies of her book entitled, Mountain View, and visited with individuals. Lance Sears, another senior from Arcadia High School closed the evening by giving the Benediction.