ROCKVILLE — Havre de Grace Seventh-day Adventist Church is reaching out to U.S. gold medalist swimmer and Bethesda native Katie Ledecky to help raise awareness for the victims of last week’s fatal fire in Silver Spring.
The small church of about 20, mostly made up of immigrants from Haiti, decided to take a long shot and invited Ledecky to speak about the fire as the church gathers supplies, funds and French-speaking interpreters to help people displaced from the fire.
“We will do whatever can to get her attention, including the need to have compassion for people who are suffering,” said Rodney Charitable, the church’s pastor. “The best way to celebrate your success and achievement is to show compassion for others.”
The idea to enlist Ledecky came from Havre de Grace’s unofficial media relations manager and friend Rocky Twyman.
Though not a member of Havre de Grace, Twynman, a veteran public relations specialist, frequently helps the church promote their fundraisers and charity events.
“I just feel that these Olympic gold medalists are really role models and I think it would be so wonderful to do a funder raiser with her,” Twynman said.
Twynman said he is reaching out to Ledecky’s alma mater Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, hoping the school could help catch the Olympic athlete’s attention.
He said Ledecky’s status as a world-class Olympian could help bring needed attention to the families affected by last week’s fire.
“We just have to try revolutionary things,” Twynman said.
For practitioners at Havre de Grace, helping the victims of last week’s fire is personal.
Charitable, an immigrant from Haiti, said he understood the need to help victims of disasters after deadly floods, hurricanes and earthquakes rocked Haiti during the last decade.
“We sympathize with anyone who has been in this situation because we’ve been through it,” Charitable said.
Charitable and Twyman met in 2008 at a charity event for victims of Hurricane Gustav that displaced 6,300 people in Haiti.
After meeting, Twynman offered to lend his experience in media relations to the small church to help promote their charity events.
This Saturday, between 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m., the church is taking donations that will be delivered to victims in Silver Spring.
Twynman said people can drop off water, canned goods, diapers, toiletries and children’s to the church located at the Chapel of the Rockville United Church, located at 112 W. Montgomery Avenue.
“The same why I think that to devote the rest of my life to helping others I think an athlete who achieves a goal medal should do that to demonstrate to others that it’s important to be compassionate to others that are unfortunate,” he said.