SOUTHERN PINES, NC- On Friday, March 18, 2022, Sandhills Community College welcomed Dr. Ben and Candy Carson as the institution kicked off their 2022 Governor Holshouser Speakers Series. Dr. Carson, a world-renowned Neurosurgeon, former Presidential candidate, and US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under the Trump administration, greeted a select group of community leaders to a pre-speech meet and greet event. Later that evening, Carson delivered an inspiring message centered around his personal story, childhood struggles, faith, and his love for reading. Much of his address to the audience highlighted the importance of literacy and education in America’s schools.
Sandhills Adult & Teen Challenge was represented by Russell Cambria, Executive Director, and Larry Caddell, Chairman of the Board. Caddell also serves on the Board of Directors of Sandhills Community College and is a member of the Speakers Series Steering Committee. Cambria briefly met Dr. Carson and mentioned Adult & Teen Challenge and its strong connection to the community. “Dr. Carson was very familiar with our organization on a national level,” said Cambria. “The Adult & Teen Challenge (ATC) National Office, headquartered in Missouri, has been very engaged in Washington, DC in recent years so it was encouraging to hear a public figure like Carson speak specifically about some of the work we do. He also acknowledged that he was aware of the complexities we face based on the growing opioid epidemic.”
The following morning, Dr. Carson hosted a prayer breakfast for approximately 75 community and state leaders. Cambria and Caddell were also in attendance and Adult & Teen Challenge was provided a five-minute window (as were a few other organizations) to speak about the work going on in Moore County and other areas within North Carolina. Cambria used his allotted time to tell the story of Rev. David Wilkerson, Founder of Teen Challenge, and his early run in with gang members in New York City in the late 1950’s and how that story continues to impact millions of people worldwide.
In 1958, Wilkerson, a rural preacher from Pennsylvania felt compelled to go to New York to speak to 7 young boys on trial for murder. Wilkerson was denied access to the defendants at the time and was famously thrown out of the courtroom. That presumed public failure later opened the door for Wilkerson to obtain initial acceptance with another set of gang members, including their leader, Nicky Cruz. Cruz eventually played a role in the establishment of the first ATC program in Brooklyn, NY and is now an Evangelist. Today, there are over 1,600 ATC programs in 129 countries reaching over 75,000 individuals each year. The full story of Adult & Teen Challenge’s humble beginnings can be found in Wilkerson’s book, The Cross & the Switchblade.
To learn more about Sandhills ATC, sign up for a quarterly newsletter, or to make a tax-deductible donation to help those in addiction find freedom, visit www.sandhillsatc.org