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Bobbitt_Errika 11.20.18

Decatur Memorial Hospital employees including Errika Bobbitt, front left, and Stacey Taylor pass around food at the start of the 66th Annual Community Thanksgiving Luncheon at the Decatur Civic Center Tuesday.

DECATUR — Complain about the struggles or be grateful for what you have? For Pastor Eric Trickey, who has been battling colon cancer for the past four years, the answer comes from his own experience.

While he travels to Washington, D.C., once a month for chemotherapy, he said a CAT scan revealed his aggressive treatments hadn't removed or reduced the tumors, though no new ones had appeared. At first, he said he complained, because it wasn't the outcome he wanted, but that attitude wasn't doing much, he soon learned.

“Gratitude is the only difference between a bad day and a good day,” he said. “My bad days are the choice that I’ve made to complain, rather than give thanks.”

Sebok_Dan 11.20.18

Volunteers Dan Sebok and Mary Jean Bauer of The Golden K Kiwanis Club await the guests for the 66th Annual Community Thanksgiving Luncheon at the Decatur Civic Center Tuesday.

Trickey, senior pastor at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, gave the invocation and benediction for more than 800 people during the Community Thanksgiving Luncheon on Tuesday afternoon in the Decatur Civic Center. 

It's an annual tradition during which a meal is shared, residents and organizations who have contributed to the community's success are recognized — with a single clap for each and one large applause for all — and a message of thanks is served.

Nelson's Catering provided the meal, which was served by Lutheran School Association, Maroa-Forsyth FFA, MacArthur High School students and a variety of volunteers. The decorations were provided by the Garden Club of Decatur, and a musical interlude from the Millikin University Choir set the mood.

“This is proof of the momentum our community has towards our shared sense of purpose,” said Mirinda Rothrock, president of the Decatur Chamber of Commerce, which hosted the event.

The keynote address was delivered by David Koshinski, Investment Planners Inc. president and CEO, who spoke about the importance of the city’s history of service and a future of accomplishment, the reasons people come home and stay.

Invoking such great city names as A.E. Staley, who led the partnership that built Lake Decatur to help the city grow, Koshinski noted all the people and organizations whose overarching desire is to make this a little better place to live.

Pelz_Jerry 11.20.18

Jerry Pelz, left, and Gussie Reed greet attendees from the head table for the 66th Annual Community Thanksgiving Luncheon at the Decatur Civic Center Tuesday.

“This is the 66th time the Greater Decatur Chamber of Commerce has met to celebrate the blessings of our community,” Koshinski noted, ticking off a community-wide list of those who have throughout the year helped make this day one of thanks. 

One person who embodied that spirit of thanks passed away earlier this year: Dr. John Wasem, who had attended every Community Thanksgiving Luncheon since the first one in 1953. The chiropractor made sure he had his seat every year, and Koshinski acknowledged his contributions.

“His dedication will truly be missed,” Koshinski said.

Wasem graduated from high school in 1945, then left for a time to serve in the military and attend college. He returned to Decatur in 1952 and retired from his chiropractor practice after more than 50 years. Wasem passed away Feb. 6, and the Chamber and his family believe he was the only person who had attended every the luncheon.

“Dad always had a deep faith and loved Thanksgiving and Decatur,” said his son Mark Wasem. “He loved that Decatur took a day and gave thanks for all the blessings the city and country has received. He loved that fact the Chamber started the luncheon," Mark Wasem said.

Rothrock said the event continues to shine that light brightly.

“We are proud of the hard work and dedication that you do each and every day to contribute to the progress of our city and our region,” she said to those in attendance.

Trickey said his change in attitude helped him realize he had much for which to be thankful, even as he battled cancer. He gave thanks for his wife, doctors and the community. Before his benediction, he asked everyone in attendance to put a hand on someone, share the moment, reflect on those things that bring us closer together for a better day.

“Our attitude not only brings us closer to God, but it brings us closer to other people,” he said. “It opens up a world of possibilities.”


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Contact Donnette Beckett at (217) 421-6983. Follow her on Twitter: @donnettebHR

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