DANBURY, Wis. (WCCO) — The weekend storms have devastated a local retreat for parents and families who are facing serious illness or the death of a child. Officials say Friday’s storm wiped out most of the 80 acres of Faith’s Lodge, leaving only the retreat’s building standing.
“It was like a shelf, the wind, everybody went for cover. I crawled in here the first day to get to the building. Once I got up here, I just couldn’t believe it. It was really emotional and it’s hard to look at,” said Faith’s Lodge Manager of Operations Evelyn Nyberg. “So sad, just the families I had to call and tell them not to come. We had people from Ohio and Virginia supposed to be here today. We are going to need a lot of help.”
Faith’s Lodge provides families a place to stay, reflect and heal while a loved one is facing serious illness or in the recent events of the loss of a child.
“It is like a sacred ground, that is what this place is, sacred ground,” said Ben Wheeler, who first came to Faith’s Lodge in October of 2009, after his son River died from SIDS at just six days old.
At the time, Wheeler and his wife painted a heart shaped rock with River’s name on it, and placed it in a tree. Tuesday, among all the wreckage, he found his son’s rock among the fallen trees.
“It’s a little piece there is hope there will be this again. We know all our kids are here. We knew right here when I walked up and heard the windchime. I knew there was still hope here,” said Wheeler.
In front of the lodge, a windchime still rings out. While the forest fell, the chimes never moved from their place on a splintered tree.
“Faith’s Lodge is a place where hope grows and it’ll be OK,” said Nyberg.
The lodge will be shut down for the month of July. The staff is asking for donations to help with the cleanup, donations of trees, and say volunteers may be needed. To learn more about Faith’s Lodge or to donate to the cause, click here.