By Kristen Miller
COKATO, MN - Many young people dream of someday making a difference. Courtney Funk, 18, of Cokato, has started in her own community by helping to get the message of hope out to those struggling at the first-ever “Save the Day” concert event Sunday, Aug. 16 in Veterans Memorial Park, Cokato.
Funk knows what it’s like to be down and depressed, after all, she has been there herself.
That is why after hearing the story of the non-profit movement, To Write Love on Her Arms, Funk wanted to share that message with others and to hopefully bring them hope in times of despair.
To help spread the message of hope, Funk invited Jamie Toworkowski, the founder of To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA), to share his story Sunday, Aug. 16 at 2 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Park on Brooks Lake in Cokato.
TWLOHA is “dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery,” according to its mission statement.
Through TWLOHA web sites and blogs, Toworkowski gives people who are struggling a place to feel at home, to get help, and share their stories with others like themselves.
It began after Toworkowski and his friends helped a 19-year-old, suffering from drug addiction, depression, and self-injury, seek treatment.
They began helping the teenager pay for treatment by selling TWLOHA T-shirts. Not only were the T-shirts a hit, but people were interested in hearing the story behind them.
By sharing the story, Toworkowski found there were people everywhere who could relate those either in need of help or needing to help a loved one.
For Funk, having struggled with depression in the past herself, TWLOHA really hit home for her. And after she found God, Funk’s perspective on life changed.
“[TWLOHA] is about finding hope and knowing God loves you despite what you may be going through,” Funk said.
With people in the area including her peers struggling from self-injury, depression, alcohol and drug abuse, Funk wanted to bring the message of hope she received from TWLOHA to her own community by inviting the founder to speak.
Funk decided to make it an all-day event by also inviting bands that play the Christian pop-core music that she likes.
She is not alone in liking this particular style of music, which has been described as “really hard-core rock with Christians lyrics.”
A local band, Lift the Burden, will be performing at the event. The band members are Aaron Munson, Marcus DeSmith, JT Tanner, Jacob Springman, Jon Thorson, and Bryant Beckermann.
Other bands performing will be Hyland, Pilot for Kite, Fades Away, Aiming for Aurora, Man of Sorrows, Bright Light Parade, Heart Like a Hero, Past Line of Defense, and The Dawn of My Death.
Funk expects there to be quite a crowd, since more than 1,000 fliers were handed out at the Sunshine Festival this past July in Willmar.
The Upper Room
Many youth and young adults in the area are familiar with the Upper Room a place to hang out with friends, listen to pop-core Christian rock, and learn how to make a difference.
It was a combination effort between band members from Lift the Burden and Rick Sorenson, that the Upper Room became a venue for young people to express themselves, become involved, and be connected in a setting where they can listen to the style of music they love.
“It’s to help them make a difference in their world, and encouraging them in whatever God wants them to do,” Sorenson said.
Currently, the Upper Room is located at Cokato Township Hall. Its schedule of events can be accessed online at myspace.com/theupperroomcokato.