As the community in Sutherland Springs grieves for the 26 people killed by a shooter on Sunday, one man vows to restore hope to the small town.
A San Antonio contractor has been raising money to design and build a new church in the community. Contractor Brad Beldon drove to the La Vernia feed store Tuesday morning to donate to the animals of shooting victims being cared for there.
While in the area, he stopped by the Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church to see how else he could help. That's when he realized there was much more he could do.
“I want everybody in Sutherland Springs to know that San Antonio cares,” said Beldon, CEO of Beldon Group of Companies.
Brad's heart still aches for the 26 people killed by a shooter at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. “It resonated with us and every time I close my eyes I think about it and I just can't sleep,” Beldon said.
When he visited the crime scene Tuesday, Brad could feel the pain of the community in the air.
“I'm at the same yellow tape everybody else is at, but being there is different than sitting in my office,” said Beldon.
Overwhelmed with emotion, the contractor from San Antonio asked the sheriff if he could help to reopen the church before Sunday services. The sheriff's response opened his eyes to how much loss the tiny town suffered.
“He said there was a significant amount of damage and they won't be able to reuse the church,” Beldon said.
Brad immediately vowed to give the people of Sutherland Springs something to look forward to.
“We're going to go find $2.5 million and we'll just build a new church,” he told the sheriff.
It's a tall order, but Brad quickly learned he wasn't the only one willing to give up his time to make a difference. “We've been calling everybody we know nonstop and, the interesting thing is, before I even finish asking the question, they're already saying yes,” said Beldon.
45 companies have volunteered their expertise. Beldon's attorney set up a nonprofit. Frost Bank agreed to create an account and a GoFundMe page has already raised tens of thousands of dollars for the cause.
“What's really cool to me is that there's just so much more love than there is hate and I don't think we realized how much love existed before this tragedy. It was there every day, we just didn't see it,” Beldon said.
Brad's goal is to raise the money in 30 days and give it to the acting pastor who will design the new church with an architect firm that volunteered to help. “My dream would be that more families would want to join there and to help everybody and become a bigger church,” said Beldon.
Beldon said he is getting closer to the $2.5 million goal every day, but he still needs more donations.