Union Grove Missionary Baptist Church makes it a priority to serve the community, and that community extends well beyond the border of Warner Robins.
Keris Bembry is the 5-year-old daughter of Trey and Deidre Bembry, who both attended Warner Robins High School and attended Union Grove before moving to Newnan. Keris was diagnosed with an inoperable DIPG brain tumor in 2013.
DIPG tumors almost always kill their patients, attaching themselves to the brainstem. The average survival time after diagnosis is about 10 months and the overall survival rate is less than 10 percent.
Keris is beating those odds. Her family recently returned from treatment in Texas where they were told that her tumor has unattached itself from her brainstem.
To help raise money for the Bembry family -- some of the treatments are experimental and not covered by insurance -- Union Grove is holding a community outreach event April 18. Keris and her family will be in attendance.
The event will be held at Sewell Circle park from 12-7 p.m. and will include games, food, face painting, music and a dunking booth. There also will be a punt, pass and kick contest. Other churches, First Baptist, Christian Fellowship Church and Fellowship Baptist, have partnered with Union Grove for a series of flag football games that will be held that day as well.
The church is taking donations from businesses and individuals, and any money beyond the Bembry’s financial needs will be used to help other children fighting DIPG. About 400 children, usually between 5 and 9 years of age, are diagnosed each year in the United States.
Rashee Ragin, youth leader at Union Grove, said the church is just doing what it is called to do.
“Our focus is community and family. This is something that we can do that can impact a family and more,” Ragin said.
The public is invited to attend the event for Keris. Union Grove also is having is a prayer walk Saturday. The group will meet at the church at 10 a.m. The public is also invited to join that event and help cover the neighborhood surrounding Union Grove in prayer.