Carnie’s community comes together: prayer and praise lifted spirits
Published 12:58 pm Tuesday, September 13, 2022
BY KAREN THIEL
The engine bay at Bunyan Volunteer Fire Department was full last Saturday – but not with fire trucks. More than 50 friends, neighbors, and firefighters gathered there to pray for Carnie Hedgepeth, director of Beaufort County Emergency Services and a pastoral team member at Arthur Christian Church in Bell Arthur, North Carolina. Hedgepeth has been hospitalized since June 20, when he was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. Initially treated at ECU Health in Greenville, he was transferred to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia, in late July, for care related to the hospital’s specialty in medical treatment and rehabilitation for spinal cord, brain and other serious injuries.
Hedgepeth’s wife, Melody, has been with him since the day of the accident. Support from home has grown steadily since then. “Carnie’s Community”, a Facebook page created by members of his church, is updated often. A “GoFundMe” page is set up for him, and area fundraisers continue to be organized by the church and local first responders.
“One of the Bunyan department’s firefighters has even designed a line of T-shirts supporting Carnie’s treatment. Every penny that’s given goes to help pay for what he needs,” said Chris Newkirk, an operations chief at Beaufort County Emergency Services. He said fundraising efforts have ranged from BBQ sales and pancake suppers to a gun raffle, T-shirt sales and a “challenge coin” dedicated to Hedgepeth, plus several upcoming auctions featuring paintings and photographs of Beaufort County scenery.
Speakers at last Saturday’s event included several chaplains who have worked with Hedgepeth over the years. Worship music was supplied by a father-daughter team from Hedgepeth’s church. “I hope this microphone picks it up and carries it out to the world,” said Wes Williams, chief of Bunyan Volunteer Fire Department. “Don’t be bashful about singing in front of these people. We are singing in front of God. Let’s tell Him how grateful we are for what He is doing for Carnie,” Williams said.
According to Carnie’s Community posts, Hedgepeth has come out of a lengthy coma, can now speak and sit upright, and treatment is progressing on all fronts. Newkirk said everyone at Saturday’s event knows God is answering their prayers. “Some would say ‘why me?’ Carney would say ‘why not me?’ Carnie is looking forward to whatever God has planned for him.”