ANDERSON — On Sunday afternoon, hundreds gathered at Anderson Zion Baptist Church in support of a local man battling stage IV cancer.
Last year, Anderson High School alumnus and former basketball star Jason Townsend was diagnosed with colon cancer. Now 46 years old, he has been the focus of several fundraisers put on by the community, and, most recently, an “Appreciation Day” event.
The three-hour event consisted of musical performances, donation opportunities, prayer and speeches from Townsend’s friends and family.
His mother, Eula Townsend, was glad to see such a large group gathering for a common cause.
“This was a wonderful event,” she said. “I have never seen so many people in one place. It was just absolutely wonderful.”
For Eula Townsend, it was no surprise to see the impact her son has had on the community.
“He’s a good son,” she said. “Everybody would want a son like Jason.”
The honoree was overwhelmed by the support shown by those in attendance.
“The event was awesome,” Townsend said. “There was such an outpouring of love that I couldn’t have ever imagined it would be.”
Townsend appreciated the community’s efforts to make this event a reality.
“The people here are amazing,” he said. “They did a great job of putting the program on. I am very grateful.”
For Townsend, his battle has been greatly influenced by his faith.
“Without faith, I would not be standing here,” he said. “I would have given up a long time ago without my faith. Right now, I can say that either way this thing goes, I win.”
Austin Morgan, a 20-year-old college student, was one of the many in attendance whose life was affected by Townsend.
“I’ve known Jason since I was a little kid,” said Morgan. “He’s always been kind to me.”
Morgan explained that countless individuals have been inspired by Townsend’s story.
“He inspires all of us to stay strong,” Morgan said. “He inspires us to keep pushing no matter what the trials and tribulations are. If we don’t keep pushing, we are going to fail.”
Joe Ann Burk, a family member, has seen Townsend’s ability to inspire others.
“He is a wonderful guy,” she said. “He is loving and he really cares about other people.”
According to Burk, “Appreciation Day” was a perfect tribute to Townsend and his battle.
“The event was beautiful,” Burk said. “And Jason is a beautiful person.”