It was over the Labor Day weekend in 2012 that Indianapolis child rights activist Richard Propes was traveling through Elkhart County, Indiana on his 23rd Annual Tenderness Tour.
Since 1989, I've traveled nearly 4,000 miles by wheelchair raising awareness and funds on behalf of organizations working to end child abuse and domestic violence.
Word arrived while I was wheeling that 17-year-old Jessica Evans, a Facebook friend and daughter of a friend and Tenderness Tour volunteer, had been murdered along with her boyfriend while out camping. The suspect, Danny Coston, is currently on trial in the killings in White County, Illinois.
While it destroys me every time I hear of a murdered youth, I must confess that Jessi's killing has hit me harder than most - partly because I know her mother, partly because she and I were FB friends and I found her an absolutely delightful young woman, and partly because it did happen while I was actually on a Tenderness Tour.
With her mother's blessing, I am offering the Jessica Evans Legacy Tenderness Tour in an effort to fund the Jessica Evans Memorial Scholarship Fund for a 10-year period. The award was first given this past year by her mother in honor of a graduating senior from Jessi's high school whose attitude and actions exemplified a devotion to humanity and a celebration of the human spirit.
I cannot bring Jessi back...Lord knows I would do anything to be able to do so. What I can do is symbolically bring her home by wheeling from Carmi, Illinois, the small town in which she was killed, to her home town of Norris City, IL.
I will be raising funds for the Jessica Evans Memorial Scholarship Fund and 100% of the funds raised will go directly into the fund that will award a $500 scholarship each year for the next 10 years.
During my visit, I hope to also do outreach and possibly visit churches or non-profit organizations. Special thanks to our sponsors including Wabash Christian Retirement Center, Hargrave Mums & More, and Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana.
For more information on the history of the Tenderness Tour, visit the Tenderness Tour website
8/30/13 - Arrive in Carmi at 3pm for a tour of The Guardian Center. After that, I'll be taking a photo with volunteers in front of the high school in preparation for the donation of a pink Dogwood Tree in Jessi's honor. Finally, I'll meet with key volunteers in the evening to make sure I'm set for the next day's wheeling before settling down for the evening.
8/31/13 - Tenderness Tour From Carmi to Norris City during the day followed by community gathering. There should be a stop or two during the two and community gatherings at the beginning and end.
9/1/13 - Various outreach opportunities along with time to recover. I'll leave for Indy sometime in the mid to late afternoon.
Be sure to check out my book "The Hallelujah Life" available on Amazon.com in print and Kindle versions.
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