Sunrise expects to overcome loss of activities center in fire

Published 8:40 am Thursday, January 25, 2018


Sunrise Children’s Services

On the afternoon of Jan. 19, fire erupted quickly and spread through the activity center on our Woodlawn campus next to Millennium Park. I praise God no one was injured as our staff was terrific throughout the situation and followed a superb evacuation plan to keep the children safe.

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Our children witnessed the fire as it raged out-of-control and a couple of them wondered if their cabin would be destroyed. But the swift work and response of the Danville fire and police departments ensured that did not happen.

Thankfully, there was no damage to any other buildings on our campus. We also appreciate the great support from First Baptist Church for coming to our aid to house, feed and keep the boys occupied until they could return to campus on Saturday.

When the dust finally settled, the activity center the children so loved and needed was reduced to mangled steel and ash. For the boys there, this is a tremendous loss both emotionally and physically. Caleb stated that he will miss the basketball games and the cooking lessons every Friday that took place there. He continued by saying that all their equipment is gone and the special pots and pans are ruined.

The activity center could be described as the heartbeat of the Woodlawn campus. Its uses included recreation, therapy, life skills training, a place to read a book, and it would also play host to community groups from Danville and surrounding areas. In bad weather, the boys always looked forward to their basketball time, a good game of kickball, or just an opportunity to hang out. It was the only place on campus that all 27 boys could meet at one time to socialize. As one child said, “the movies were awesome in there.”

In spite of this tragedy, we know that with a positive attitude, we will rise above these ashes and find opportunity. We estimate Sunrise’s financial need to be upwards of $950,000 to rebuild a modern-day facility that meets the everyday needs of up to 30 young men.

Until a new building can be erected, Sunrise has an immediate need for cash donations at and gift cards to purchase recreational items lost in the fire. Those needs include an air hockey table, ping pong table, TVs, gaming systems, corn hole sets and cooking equipment, to name a few. We’ve also launched a CrowdRise campaign where our supporters can donate and set up fundraising teams on our behalf:

Looking at the broken steel and destruction, I am confident we will rise from these ashes and rebuild a great facility for these wonderful young men. Will you join hands with us and help Sunrise move from tragedy to triumph? Sunrise has enjoyed being a long-standing member of the Danville community and we appreciate the support of our friends and neighbors during this difficult time.

Dale Suttles is president of Sunrise Children’s Services.