Faith, hope, love and prayers came down like rain in the center of Miami Springs as well as in the hearts of hundreds Monday evening when the community joined as one for a Candlelight Prayer Vigil for 5-year-old Chad Carr and his family. Chad’s parents made the extremely difficult decision last week to begin hospice care for their precious son, who was diagnosed with brain cancer in September 2014.
Chad’s mom, Tammi Curtis-Carr, Miami Springs Senior High School Class of 1993, her husband Jason Carr and their three sons — CJ, Tommy and Chad — live in Michigan. The distance apart means very little when someone means so much and the Curtis-Carr family certainly mean a lot to the local Miami Springs/Virginia Gardens community.
When local residents Yolanda Sauer, Elaine Martin and Dania Collazo (of Team Daniella) heard the news about Chad being in hospice care, they knew they needed to do something and prayer was the answer. It didn’t take much for them to rally the community and the rainy weather wasn’t going to prevent the prayers for a miracle and the prayers for courage, peace and strength from taking place.
Boy Scouts from Troop 334 and students from MSSH’s F.E.A. Club welcomed the community and passed out candles. Candles included charming holders that were handmade by girls from Blessed Trinity’s Little Flowers group. Each drip guard carried a special message. Orange bows lined the gazebo, as did handmade posters that included words of peace and hope and handprints of children from Poinciana’s Children’s Ministry.
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Pastor Sam Miranda of Crossbridge Church emceed the evening, which began with a welcome and a few words of thanksgiving from Chad’s grandfather, our very own Tom Curtis. Chad’s uncles, Brad and Matt Curtis, began the candle lighting ceremony by lighting an orange tiki torch. Orange is Chad’s favorite color. Much like Chad’s story, the light quickly traveled. Soon the Miami Springs Circle was shining by candlelight.
Pastor Bill Whiddon of the Miami Springs Baptist Church gave the invocation. Boy Scout Colin Rodriguez of Troop 334, Pastor Gordon Pike of Poinciana UMC, Tamara Thomas of Grace Lutheran and Father Yamil of Blessed Trinity led the large crowd in prayers.
Longtime family friend Robyn Ramirez was asked to share about the strength and the faith of the Carr family.
“D.I.P.G. Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma. When this diagnosis and prognosis was told to the Carr family over 13 months ago, I asked Tammi what could be done,” said Ramirez. “She said, just pray. I believe in the power of prayer and I want people all of over the world praying for my son. We need a miracle.
“When we were little, our dads took us to a baseball game but before we went to the game Tammi said, ‘You better take a glove because we’re going to catch a ball tonight.’ I was like, yeah, right, sure, whatever, but she was determined to catch a ball and, lo and behold, we caught a ball. Well, to know Tammi is to understand that when she sets her mind to accomplish something she will accomplish it.
“I thought if anyone can help Chad beat this disease it would be Tammi and Jason. Tammi and Jason believe Chad was sent to them for a reason. Is this the reason? Here we are, this small community, in a small part of the world, together praying for Tammi, Jason, CJ, Tommy, Chad and the rest of the family.
“Praying with a community alters us. Often when life hurts, we pray by ourselves and assume that we are alone in our pain. When we enter into community to pray, our eyes open up. We see that we are not alone in our pain. There are others that suffer, too, and we realize that we are not alone.
“There are dozens of people, or thousands in Tammi’s case, who are praying for them, who are extending their arms to help. Suddenly the nature of our prayers begin to change. We stop drowning in self-pity. We stop praying for ourselves alone. Before long we begin adding others to our prayers. We begin praying for our world. We begin to see our own troubles in a new light.
“God is about miracles. There is no cure and funding is only 1 percent for this horrible disease. The Carr family would like you to continue praying and spreading the word about D.I.P.G. You can donate to the ChadTough Foundation. All of the proceeds go to awareness and research for D.I.P.G. God, please gives this family the peace they seek and the miracle they desire. Amen,” concluded Ramirez.
As the city was lit up by candlelight, the Piano Guys’ instrumental version of Rachel Platten’s This is Your Fight Song carried through the crowd, followed by a live a capella rendition of Amazing Grace by Reyna Day. The evening came to an end as the Blessed Trinity Rosary Group led prayers and guests walked away in silence.
“The power of prayer is an amazing thing and all we can do is pray for Chad and hope for a miracle,” Matt Curtis said as he closed the evening. “Chad is a wonderful young boy and he doesn’t deserve this, but God has a plan for all of us. I just pray that everybody here continues to point their heart and their prayers toward Chad.”