Proceeds from a Christmas concert on Dec. 22 at South Parkersburg Baptist Church will help a local couple adopt a child or children from Africa.
Parkersburg city firefighter Chad Eddy and his wife, Mary, want to adopt a child from an African orphanage in Accra, Ghana, and bring the child to Parkersburg for Christmas 2013. Mary said they might adopt a brother and sister, 4 and 9 years old.
The benefit concert at 6:30 p.m. is described as a festive evening of Christmas music and memories. Featured will be Parkersburg native and Broadcast Music Inc. award-winning songwriter Twila LaBar, Dove Award-winning singer/songwriter Belinda Smith, author and Parkersburg native Mysty Westfall and local talents Lindsay Vincent, Erica Dodge, rock/alternative band The Janes and bluegrass group Simply Bluegrass.
Mary Eddy, who does homeless outreach in Parkersburg, is a singer in The Janes. Eddy expects she and her husband will make two trips to Africa before hopefully adopting a child or children.
Mary said her two sons, Jake, 13, and Carter, 8, are excited about the prospects of adding siblings to the family. The boys are saving money for their "Africa Fund," their mom said.
Jake and Carter will be joining their grandfather Allen Barnett of Parkersburg in performing as Simply Bluegrass at the concert.
"Chad and I feel a calling to adopt," Mary said. LaBar of Austin, Texas, will be singing "Orphans of God" at the concert.
When Ryan Taylor answered the doorbell at his Parkersburg home last Friday evening, he was surprised to see his smiling 92-year-old grandmother Mildred Matheny and his father, Gary, standing there. Behind them were 90 people wishing Ryan a happy 40th birthday. "People were everywhere. They had parked their cars down the street," said Taylor, president of Pickering Associates who lives on Grenada Drive. "I had no clue. I was so surprised." Taylor, who turned 40 on Wednesday, said his 9-year-old son Zach kept him occupied and away from the windows as the crowd of family, friends and co-workers gathered for the surprise birthday party. Co-conspirators in the surprise party, which lasted until 2:30 a.m. and featured a large gold and blue WV cake, were Ryan's wife, Emily, mother, Jane, and Pickering employee Kerri Dunn, he said. Ryan admitted to bragging at work there would be no birthday party for him, but his co-workers knew otherwise. Ryan said it has been a good year for him, being named by West Virginia Executive magazine as one of its "Young Guns of 2013" in November and being recognized last month by the Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley as one of two Young Business Leaders of the Year for 2012.
The "Hardee's Bunch," a group of men nearing 70 years old who don't want to be identified in print, is challenging others to brighten Christmas for children. Last year, the men donated three bicycles to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve's Toys for Tots for distribution to local children at Christmas. This year, the guys meeting at Hardee's on Seventh Street set a goal of buying 10 bicycles with helmets but actually purchased 13 in two days, after asking friends meeting at the McDonald's in the traffic circle, walkers at the mall and Shriners to contribute $100 each. "The Marine Reserve told us they needed more bikes," said one of the organizers, a 1961 graduate of Parkersburg High School.
On Sunday, Mark Lanyon of Parkersburg and Brian Turrill of Belpre were among a panel of five judges critiquing students of the Cincinnati dance school Planet Dance on their dance technique, performing skills, choreography and costumes. Students performed at the Aronoff Center for the Arts in Cincinnati to gauge their skills and help them improve, said Turrill, executive director of Cincinnati's Exhale Dance Tribe. Lanyon has performed in Broadway productions. Other judges were Drew Lachey, from "Dancing with the Stars"; his wife, Lea Lachey, a choreographer, and choreographer Sarah Charles-Fogarty.
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