A Night of Hope 2015
At our 2015 event we were blessed to have to the following presenters share their messages of hope with us. Their stories are listed below.
Jeff Kopietz - Split Second Decisions
I have been a police officer for over 24 years. I had never dreamt of being a cop but needed a career and was talked into taking the test. From the first day in the academy, I knew this was the job for me. I worked my way through patrol duties, special enforcement units, narcotics, SWAT and ended up on the Fugitive Squad. I lived through tough assignments, horrible criminal investigations, personal injuries and the on-duty murders of two fellow officers. I balanced these events at work with raising a family and all the challenges that come with it.
On May 20, 2015, my life changed forever. An armed felon made the choice to engage me and my crew in a shootout. I returned fire and killed the suspect, but he killed Officer Kerrie Orozco during the gun battle.
I had to deal with the loss of a co-worker while dealing with the fact I killed someone. My family, my friends, my co-workers, and complete strangers stepped up and helped me work through it. Their support and my faith helped me through and continue to help me through this difficult time.
Vanessa Hamill - Finding Hope in Broken Places
Almost three years ago she found herself facing a battle of alcohol and opiate addiction. With God’s grace and the unconditional love of her husband, Greg, she was able to overcome the darkness of addiction.
Twelve days after celebrating her first year of sobriety, she lost her husband to a stroke related o H1N1 influenza.
Thanks to a firm foundation in Jesus, she again turned to Him for her strength and hope.
Vanessa uses her experiences to help others find hope in their broken places through Jesus. She is a volunteer, stay-at-home mom, and homeschool teacher to Taryn, 12, and Ian, 10.
Karen & Jordan Stevens - Macy's Miracle
Macy Rose Stevens was born on July 29, 1998. Her arrival was met by a gallery of doctors, nurses and a waiting room full of family and friends. Four months earlier, during a routine ultrasound, it was discovered that Macy would be born with serious heart defects including tricuspid atresia, pulmonary stenosis and transposition of the great arties among a few other terms that shocked and worried us beyond our wildest nightmares. She would be our first child and the long four-month wait had tested the fine threads of our young, two-year old marriage.
The doctors prepped us for a three-step procedure called the Fontan. At one-month, six-months and two-years old, Macy underwent open-heart surgeries that would provide enough passive blood flow for her to live a comfortable,
“normal” life. On the edge of our conversations with the surgeon and cardiologist, we touched on a possible heart transplant at some point in her life. But being thankful and naïve first time parents, we thought Macy was out of the woods and she was going to be the exception and not need a transplant.
Around Macy’s third birthday in July of 2001 that would all change. Macy’s health had declined and a heart cath confirmed that she was experiencing congestive heart failure. A private medial flight to St. Louis with her mom refocused the seriousness of Macy’s medical issues. After a three-week stint in St. Louis along with a dose of medical therapy, Macy’s condition improved. We were offered two options: return home and see how Macy’s condition progressed on the drug therapy or list her as a status 1B on the transplant list and go home with a pager and the understanding a heart could be available the next day or in six months or a year. We did not hesitate and returned to Omaha, not listing her, with a new clarity of what was on the horizon for Macy.
Seven years. That’s how long the drug therapy worked. An unbelievable and astonishing amount of time for Macy to grow, for the rejection medicines to get better and for us to prepare. In 2008, what we thought might be a cold turned out to be congestive heart failure once again and we found ourselves back in St. Louis in August of that year.
On December 2, 2008, Macy received a new heart. After a four-month wait, what we hoped would be a perfect match, our prayers answered, had finally arrived and we delivered Macy to the transplant team around midnight. Early that morning, Macy’s new heart beat for the first time at 5:50 am. 14 days later we returned to Omaha. We still shake our heads at that.
December 2, 2015, will be the sixth anniversary of Macy’s transplant. She has flourished and she has been extremely fortunate with how well her recovery and continued health has done since her transplant.
Macy is now a senior in high school. A lifetime ago from the 10-year little girl that showed us how fragile and how fantastic life can be.
Jennifer Taute - Surviving a Child's Addictions
All my husband and I ever wanted was to be parents. For years we struggled to conceive a child. On April 3, 1992, God answered our prayers, and we became the proud parents of a baby boy, Tyler Patrick. We adopted our first child and truly believed that love, amily,faith and dear friends could conquer all. Tyler’s birth mother was a drug addict and his birth father was an alcoholic. That did not matter to us, as we knew that he was ours and we would love him unconditionally.
Our lives changed forever on July 11, 2012, when my husband, Dan, found Tyler unresponsive in his bed at the age of 20 from a heroin overdose. Over the last three years, we have grown in our faith and love for one another. Addiction not only affects the addict, but all those that love him. Throughout this journey, we have learned that we must always have hope and trust in God and what he has planned for us.