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Annual prayer breakfast to honor local heroes, World Trade Center survivor
Genelle Guzman-McMillan - photo by Photo Contributed

Since 1994, the Turlock Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast has provided Turlock residents with the opportunity to come together under one roof for a morning of prayer, reflection and this year, remembrance.

In the fifteenth anniversary year since 9/11, the prayer breakfast will honor local first responders, including police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and chaplains.

 “We’re remembering what happened in 2001, but also our local heroes,” said Jim Madsen, a member of the prayer breakfast organizing committee. “They’re often overlooked, and we want to make sure they know that we appreciate them and their sacrifice.”

Representatives from each department of public safety will be present at the prayer breakfast for a ceremony that will include a prayer of blessing and thanks, according to Madsen.

The prayer breakfast will also welcome keynote speaker Genelle Guzman-McMillan, the last person pulled alive from the World Trade Center following the 9/11 attacks. Guzman-McMillan will share her testimony, revealing how her faith in God helped her to overcome the most trying time in her life.

“Everybody that we have speak has a story, whether it’s a crisis or circumstance in their life that has required them to take seriously the power of prayer,” said Madsen. “Having her and hearing her story is going to be amazing.”

Guzman-McMillan was working on the 64th floor of one of the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001 when she felt the building shake and heard the rumble of the first impact. As she and 15 other Port Authority employees attempted to evacuate, she felt the stairs begin to crumble beneath her. Guzman-McMillan collapsed to her knees, covering her head with her arms as the tower collapsed around her.

For 27 hours, Guzman-McMillan remained beneath the rubble of the tower, unable to move. During this time, she reflected on her life and how she had drifted from the faith she once knew. She prayed fervently to God to spare her so that she could have the chance to live a more meaningful life, and was then miraculously discovered by a search-and-rescue dog.

“I don’t even want to imagine what that would be like,” said Madsen.

Speakers at the prayer breakfast are often those who have relied on the power of prayer to overcome crisis, from former Major League Baseball pitcher Dave Dravecky,  who lost his arm to cancer, to last year’s speaker, Steven Curtis Chapman, who lost his daughter in a tragic accident.

“We come together in this way, and it’s nondenominational – it’s not someone preaching to you like a church service,” said Madsen. “It’s a chance for us to come together as a community and say, ‘We care about each other and believe in the power of prayer.’”

Mayor Gary Soiseth will lead the 23rd annual prayer breakfast, held at 6:15 a.m. on April 29 at the Assyrian American Civic Club, 1618 N. Golden State Blvd.

Tickets can be purchased for $25 at any of the following locations: The Salvation Army, Geiger’s Fine Jewelers, Canal Veterinary Hospital, La Mo Café and Restaurant, Majesty Bible and Gifts and the Hilmar Cheese Visitor Center. The event is also accepting sponsors until April 15. For more information, visit