I got to hear an amazing sermon and message Sunday morning.  And I didn't hear it at a church.  I heard it from my friend David Yewell, who stood near the river in downtown Calhoun and inspired the walkers, runners and cyclists who gathered to join him for the 22nd Annual Trek for the St. Joseph Peace Mission for Children.

David started this event over two decades ago.  It was, rather simply, a trek- a 13.1 mile journey from downtown Calhoun to his home on Hwy 56 in West Louisville.  Think of it as a half-marathon of personal reflection. A winding course full of peaks, valleys, heat, humidity and the challenge of channeling your inner thoughts into positive and impactful change.

Since that time, The Trek has become a staple fundraising event in our community. Each year, there are familiar faces.  And, each year, those familiar faces are joined by newbies to the adventure and the cause.  Yesterday, both groups were treated to David Yewell's most rousing send-off in the history of the event.

After thanking sponsors, the staff of St. Joseph and all of the volunteers and participants of this year's event . . . after proudly holding up a giant rendering of the campus of the St. Joseph Peace Mission for Children . . . after praising the charitable heart of Earl Hayden, whose family has helped underwrite the soon-to-be-unveiled Hayden Home for Girls . . . David decided to share with the crowd a series of words.  Each word, a challenge, a command to us all.

He said, "So as you trek, consider and dwell on these words that are special to me: acceptance, inclusion, understanding, tolerance, forgiveness, kindness, grace, appreciation, thankfulness, patience, peace . . . and, of course, love.  And always remember, there is no finish line."

You can't fail with a mantra like that.  The point David makes is the truth.  When we accept people for who they are, when we include them, open our arms and embrace them, we achieve community.  Community is power.  And Sunday morning in Calhoun, a couple of hundred people showed what community can achieve through acceptance, inclusion, kindness and love.

Sunday's Trek XXII was a magnificent success.  Over $30,000 has been raised thus far and, according to Paula Yevincy, the Executive Director of the St. Joseph Peace Mission, donations will continue to be added to that tally.

Late Sunday night, after reflecting on another incredible Trek, David sent a message to the folks who helped make it happen.  He wrote, "I continue to be astounded by the way you folks make this happen each year.  I have never worked with such giving, loving people.  We have come along way together in these twenty-two Trek years, but the credit goes to the St. Joseph Peace Mission founders for acting with conviction many years ago in starting a place of refuge and safety."

And while that's true, I can tell you that we are all inspired by David Yewell, a man who can never speak about the St. Joseph Peace Mission without tears in his eyes and love exploding from his heart.  His words, his actions, his Trek compel us to be better.

Acceptance, inclusion, understanding, tolerance, forgiveness, kindness, grace, appreciation, thankfulness, patience, peace and love.

This . . .

More From WOMI-AM