AAMU Athletics Chaplain helps students cope with week full of heartache

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NORMAL, Ala. (WHNT) – The third tragedy of the week struck Alabama A&M’s campus, Wednesday, when the body of a student was found in a pond on school property. The news comes after three students were shot while on spring break and the passing of the school’s former star kicker.

To help deal with the heartache, AAMU students have bonded together.

“Now you’re seeing kids come back together in the Quad and it’s just a beautiful sight just to see that unity, that togetherness and all of the kids being there to support each other,” said Pastor Troy Garner.

Garner has been the pastor at the Fellowship of Faith Church for more than a decade. Located just down the street from A&M’s campus, he also serves as a chaplain for the Bulldogs’ Athletics Department.

Garner said countless students reached out to him to help them cope, but he also made it a point to increase his church’s presence on campus.

“We want to play an active role into helping our youth to overcome the hurdle of hurt this past week and we just want to be a source of encouragement to them.”

As students seek understanding and control in week with them, Garner continued to tell students to pray and focus on God. He also said he sees this indescribably trying week as a need for more engagement with the community’s young adults.

“We just can’t take a reactive role, we have to take a proactive role to get more involved in the lives of our young people.”

Shooting Victims Update

Alabama A&M University also released an update on the status of the three students who were shot while on Spring Break in Panama City Beach over the weekend. Officials say they continue to show steady signs of improvement.

“I have been keeping in contact with all three ladies,” commented Rakesha Hines, AAMU’s interim director of residential life and housing.  “I have to say that God is truly showing himself to be faithful during this sad situation.”

Kelli Curry is resting at home in Mobile, awaiting a visit with doctors to begin the recovery process owing to her gunshot wound to the leg.

Annesia Powell also appears to be performing well with her physical therapy, remains upbeat, and is hopeful of going home soon.

Kearria Freed is stable but still critical.  Physical therapy has offered some improvement, said Hines, marked by the ability to sit up with assistance, give soft hugs and to do “thumbs up” and “thumbs down.”  Her mother asks for continued prayers, because she has witnessed their daily positive effects in Kearria.

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