Thursday, July 8, 2010

Obituary and Rememberances (First College Football Game at Joel H. Wiens Halftime Memorial)

There were tears and cheers during the first college football game played at the new Joel H. Wiens Stadium on Saturday evening, Sept. 19, 2009 a contest between Tabor College and Bethany College. Spectators on both sides of the field paid tribute to the late Tabor football player, Marcus Manny, in an emotional halftime ceremony which honored his family and announced the creation of the new Marcus Manny Memorial Prayer Garden.

Tears flowed as the Tabor community remembered the transformed life of the 23-year-old senior, who died in a one-car accident on Feb. 22, near the Oklahoma-Kansas border, an inexplicable tragedy that still continues to be felt deeply on campus.

The late Marcus Manny was remembered during halftime of the Tabor College vs. Bethany College game on Saturday, Sept. 19, at Joel H. Wiens Stadium. The ceremony was conducted by former teammates and classmates and included Manny’s family (at center, from left) Roland and Trisha Miranda, and younger brother, Alex, as well as Tabor President Dr. Jules Glanzer (at right). Manny, a 23-year-old senior and kicker, lost his life in a one-car accident on Feb. 22, near the Oklahoma-Kansas border. (Tabor College Photo by Vance Frick).

Narrating the student-led ceremony on the stadium’s loudspeakers, Dr. Wendell Loewen, Dean of Spiritual Formation and Campus Pastor, said, “Marcus was a treasured part of almost every friend circle as he daily made it a point to show kindness and equality to everyone he met. He was well known for his contagious smile, notable laugh, and his signature apparel choice of a white hat and white T-shirt.

“While the campus recognizes a gaping hole where his love used to be, it realizes the importance of transforming the grief into an outpouring of the love of Jesus,” he added. “Tragedy happens, and to it meaning and purpose must be affixed. The love of God flowed through Marcus, and those touched by his life should not go unchanged….”

On the field were Manny’s family, Roland and Trisha Miranda, and his brother, Alex, traveled from Dallas, Texas, for the special event. Representing the college were former teammates, Tex Rogers, Mario Nava, and Jason Aubry; fellow students and friends, Joanna Chapa, Jenny Gaskell, and Katie Mount; and Tabor College President Dr. Jules Glanzer.

“This was a wonderful time of healing for Marcus’ family,” Glanzer said afterward. “Tabor has become a new home for their family and a place where they can experience healing and process the grief of their great loss. We were honored to have them be here for this wonderful tribute, which was the highlight of our first game in the new stadium.”

As the family received bouquets of flowers, a basket of gifts, and an autographed football signed by their son’s former teammates, announcer Loewen continued, “Roland, Trisha, and Alex, we, the Tabor College community want to continue to come alongside you, support you, and show Christ’s love to you. We want to let you know we are still with you, remembering Marcus and his impact on our campus. Together we serve a loving God who is mighty to save, comfort, and empower.”

Loewen announced that to honor and bless Manny’s memory, the Tabor College community, together with his family, would be creating the Marcus Manny Memorial Prayer Garden, to be located west of the Campus Recreation Center, next to the stadium.

A place for student fellowship and quiet reflection, the garden will include a tree planted in memory of Marcus provided by the Tabor College Student Senate. Inscribed on the accompanying plaque will be a quote from the Book of Zephaniah, “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

“This prayer garden is to serve as a tangible display of God’s passionate love,” Loewen said. “It is our intention that this garden be a way for Jesus to meet those who enter, through the beauty of God’s creation.”

On Saturday, following a moment of silence, Loewen led the quieted stadium in prayer:

“Our God, there are so many seasons in life that bring joy, pain, fulfillment, and sorrow. Though these seasons change, your never-failing love remains constant. We remember Marcus for his smile, no matter how the game was going. May you grant us the strength and courage to carry on that joy and love you displayed through him, for the rest of this game, this season, the school year, and the duration of our lives. In your precious, son Jesus’ holy name we pray, Amen.”

In closing, Loewen asked the crowd to “applaud the family’s on-going strength through these times.”

Bluejays’ fans, many dressed in white, stood for a long, heartfelt ovation, as Manny’s family smiled, waved, and wept on the 50-yard line. Across the field, Bethany College fans stood and applauded, as well.

click here to see the original posting on Tabor College's web site

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