Handicapped Encounter Christ held its 5th annual fundraising banquet in December at St. Michael Catholic Church in Cary. Handicapped Encounter Christ (HEC) is a Christian organization open to people of all faiths, organized around retreats designed to spiritually enrich all participants while also meeting the needs of adults with physical and mental disabilities.
Approximately 210 people attended the event, which featured special guest Tony Melendez, a popular Catholic musician and performer who was born without arms. “Tony is not only a great entertainer, but is a warm and personable man,” said Anthony Radewicz, a HEC volunteer. “His music and his story are always an inspiration to encounter.”
HEC, an international program, was introduced to the Triangle in 1983. Two weekend retreats and three social events are held throughout the year. Retreats are conducted at the Short Journey Center in Smithfield, a fully accessible retreat center. Individuals with mental and/or physical disabilities are paired with an able-bodied person who cares for them throughout the weekend. Each retreat averages 40-60 participants.
“The retreats combine tons of laughter, talks, group discussions, prayer celebrations, the Rosary, Mass, skits, social fun and plenty of time for one-on-one conversations,” said Radewicz. “There’s a true, grace-filled happiness associated with this retreat. And, beyond serving, the able-bodied participant is often surprised to find that he or she is the one being served.”
Above: Family and supporters of the Diocesan Handicapped Encounter Christ annual gathering held at St. Michael the Archangel Church in Cary.
Above: Ms. Mary Angelini of Raleigh and her children, Gabrielle and Quentin, attending the fundraising banquet.
Above: Musician and artist Tony Melendez, born without arms, singing and playing guitar as featured performer.