So the question that has been thrown around several times in the last week around the Prudhomme household has been: "Who are we?" Not literally, because we know our names and identities. What I mean is that we have no idea why people have chosen to pour out their love on us. We are two ordinary, incredibly flawed people who have been placed in the middle of extraordinary circumstances. We are glad that people love us, but it just makes us scratch our heads!
Saturday was the much-anticipated Rodeo for Ryan, and the outpouring of love was intense. Everywhere I looked, there was a sea of humanity. There were over one thousand people that descended upon Paradise Ranch. Everywhere there were people talking. Laughing. Serving. Smiling. Giving. Playing. Running. Relaxing. Rocking. Singing. Having fun. And the diversity of people brought together was unbelievable - people that we know from all walks of life. Port Huron, Lansing, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Jackson, Colorado Springs, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Dallas all had representation at the rodeo. We didn't realize how many people care about us. We kind of thought it would be big, but we didn't realize that it was going to be huge.
And the giving! The final counts are in and they surpassed $50,000 but there are still donations coming in! FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS! Something that you may not know is that Ryan is not able to get life insurance. Since he was diagnosed with PSC at the age of 20, he has not been insurable. We tried very hard this past winter to find a policy that would cover someone with that disease, and we thought we had found one. We sent in our premium and waited. A couple of weeks later our insurance agent called us and said, "Um, I've never had this happen before but your life insurance policy was rejected, and the company actually rewrote their bylaws to specifically say that they would not cover someone with Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis." Great. The premium check was returned to us the same week that Ryan was diagnosed with cancer. So the Lord taketh, and he giveth back. We have this money now for medical expenses, and although we pray hard that it doesn't need to be used for life insurance, at least we have something now in case of that. I don't think that it's by accident that God returned almost exactly 50k to us.
We don't know how to adequately express our gratitude. Neither of us has ever been the recipient of a gift like this. Neither of this has ever had something of this magnitude done for us. A simple "thanks" seems insufficient, but it's a start. Thank you for your time, volunteers. Thank you for your many hours of phone calls, designing signs, getting volunteers, getting donations, and serving us, planning committee. Thanks for coming out to the rodeo, especially those of you who had a far distance to drive or even fly. Thanks so much for emptying your pockets and purses and giving to a family whom many of you barely know. Thank you to the vendors and individuals who donated things ranging from handmade journals to live pigs to quilts to potatoes to vacations to jewelry - the list goes on and on! Thank you so much for your words of encouragement and for your many prayers. Thank you God for blessing this event, and by tangibly showing us how much it meant to You by holding back rain around Paradise Ranch while every other place within a mile of the ranch had downpours.
Who are we to deserve this much love? We don't. Neither do you. None of us deserve the grace and love that we have been given. Regardless, you have chosen to live out John 13:34-35: 34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."