Potluck to benefit Hayden pastor | SteamboatToday.com

Potluck to benefit Hayden pastor

Heritage Christian students find way to help former teacher in his time of need

Parishioners of Hayden's Mission of Grace Baptist Church have set up a fund to help their preacher Doug Zirkle receive a kidney transplant. Pictured in the church are Doug and his wife, Lisa, and their children Caroline and Chris.Scott Franz

— When Heritage Christian School sophomore David Kissane learned that Doug Zirkle needed a new kidney, he immediately started to think of ways he could help his former Bible teacher.

"I wondered how old you have to be to donate a kidney," Kissane said Monday at school. "I feel like if Mr. Zirkle had a spare kidney, he'd do the same thing for me. I've got two, and he's down to none."

Kissane said Monday that he's probably too young to be selected as a kidney donor, but that is not stopping him and his classmates from helping the former Heritage Christian bible teacher in his time of need.

Teachers and students at the campus are hosting a benefit potluck dinner Thursday night for Zirkle, the pastor at Hayden's Mission of Grace Baptist Church. The event follows a recent benefit concert in Hayden that raised more than $7,000 for the pastor's medical expenses. Together, the concert and other community fundraisers hosted by Mission of Grace Church now have raised more than $30,000 for Zirkle.

"We recognize he's going to face huge medical costs whether he finds a (kidney) donor or not," Heritage Christian teacher Katie Zaleski said. "We're also hoping to raise awareness and maybe inspire someone to come forward to donate a kidney. If not, we'd like to just get people to think about him."

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Zirkle taught bible classes at Heritage Christian School last school year, and his lasting impact on his students was apparent at the campus Monday.

"He made class really fun," sophomore Mackenzie Holmberg said. "He was just very nice and encouraging. And he was funny. He created lots of memories."

Junior Kieran Buccino said Zirkle's class made him realize he was a natural at memorizing bible verses.

"I still know them," Buccino said. "Especially the ones that really mean something to me."

Buccino and more than a dozen students at the school have helped Zaleski organize and prepare for the potluck dinner with the help of the Mission of Grace Church. Heritage Christian families will bring food to the event, and donations can be made for Zirkle at the dinner.

"It feels great we can just help a friend in need," Buccino said. "I love serving people who need help. It feels amazing.”

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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