Praise in the Park Salutes the Troops

By Forrest Saunders, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Saturday, for a fifth year, Praise in the Park Iowa struck a chord in Eastern Iowa with a Christian rock concert at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

But, the religious rockfest was more than just music. Every year the group behind the concert, Freed From Sin Ministries, chooses a cause to help out. In the past they've given blood, registered almost 200 to donate bone marrow, and gathered more than eight thousand pounds of food. For 2013, they reached out wounded warriors from Benton, Linn and Johnson Counties.

"They shouldn't have to suffer when they come home, after they've made this sacrifice. We need to step up to the plate," said Wendy Refstie with Freed From Sin Ministries.

Organizers said they're looking to raise up to $10,000 from a portion of ticket sales and free will donations. Money will be used to help injured veterans get prosthesis, make homes handicap accessible, and obtain service dogs. Service dogs like Justice, who wounded Afghanistan veteran Mitch Chapman said has been crucial in his recovery.

"I was hit by an IED," said Chapman. "I got compression fractures on my spine. I was unconscious. I got hearing aids, PTSD."

Justice helps by opening doors, picking things up, and just being there when Chapman's post-traumatic stress disorder kicks in.

"Fireworks going off the third, I was in panic mode. I just grabbed a hold of him, and bear hugged him," said Chapman.

Praise in the Park also gave wounded men and women a big league experience at the ballpark performance with VIP box seats and free food.

This was the second year Praise in the Park Iowa was at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Originally, the event started in Newhall, Iowa with local bands. It now includes national and international acts.
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