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Annual event calls for unity through power of prayer
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Prayers are not only a symbol of hope, but an act of faith. This week marks the National Day of Pray, an annual celebration inviting all faiths to pray for the nation.

On Thursday morning, the Turlock Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast will bring together different organizations within the community to encourage personal repentance, righteousness, and hope for a better future. 

“This organization’s commitment is to come together as a community to pray for our leaders, both local, county, state and national,” said Jim Madsen, a member of the Turlock Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast organizing committee. “Prayer is a way to lift us up when we are down, and we encourage everyone to pray for our families, our youth, and our community.”

Although the National Day of Prayer was signed into law by President Harry S. Truman in 1952, the City of Turlock did not recognize the event until resident Randy Fiorini went to a celebration held in Washington, D.C.

“As he was coming back to Turlock, he began thinking of how he could bring the community together,” said Madsen. “He spoke with Mayor Curt Andre at the time, and wanted to make this thing happen. Now we are still going strong.”

For the past 19 years, the Turlock community has invited politicians, professional athletes, and corporate leaders to speak at the event, including Michael Reagan, former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer, and Cheryl McGuinness, the wife of an American Airlines Flight pilot who died on 9/11.

“Each year we brainstorm different people who would help us pray and who would make an impact to the community,” said Madsen.

The keynote speaker for this year’s 20th Annual Community Prayer Breakfast will be Mark Speckman, a Menlo College Hall of Fame linebacker without hands. Speckman has overcome various obstacles throughout his life, but has won more awards than most people can receive with two hands.

He earned an NAIA All-American Honorable Mention and was named one of the 25 most influential sports figures in the state of Oregon.

Although he no longer plays ball, Speckman continues to coach and was named a Liberty Mutual National Coach of the Year Finalist for 2008.  Speckman will continue his coaching career with the Professional Canadian Football League in the near future.

“One of our community members had heard about Mark’s story and was very impressed with his perseverance and strength,” said Madsen. “It is like he doesn’t have a disability at all. He shows everyone that he can do everything anyone else can do. We felt like he brought all the elements together of what we are trying to promote.”

Mayor John Lazar will lead the prayer breakfast that will be held at 6:45 a.m. Thursday at Larsa Banquet Hall, 2107 E. Monte Vista Ave.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for students, and are available at the Salvation Army, 893 Lander Ave., Geiger's Fine Jewelers, 340 E. Main St., Majesty Bible & Gifts, 3065 N. Tegner Rd., or Canal Veterinary Hospital, 2040 E. Canal Dr.

For more information, or to purchase tickets online, visit