She’s off

Columbia sends Sarah to Germany

By Karen Addy
Staff Writer

Seventeen-month-old, Sarah Ray boarded a plane for West Germany Tuesday – too young to understand where she was going or why.

But in years to come she may think back on that day, and how she came to be a passenger on that plane,

And if she does, she’ll probably think of Columbia and the people who live here.

Columbians made it possible for Sarah to board that plane and, in doing so, gave the child a chance for a better life.

Her trip was the culmination of months of unselfish giving by countless individuals and charitable organizations. If all goes well, their generosity will be rewarded with knowledge that a young girl’s pain has been alleviated – and a family’s dream has come true.

The daughter of Alice Ray and Gerald Ray of South Congaree, Sarah suffers from a rare genetic skin defect, Epidermolysis Bullosa. The ailment causes painful blister to form on her skin and in her mouth and esophagus.

No cure exists for Sarah’s disease and doctors had given the Rays little hope that their daughter would live to see her teens.

Despite this, the family refused to give up hope for their daughter’s future, and now their hopes have been raised by Columbia-area residents and a West German biochemist.

The biochemist, Pavel Kozak, has developed a revolutionary treatment for the painful symptoms of the disease, utilizing creams and dietary measures.

Kozak’s patients must travel to his clinic in Michelbach, West Germany for a two-month treatment cost about $30,000.

The Rays could not afford the expensive series of treatments and the overseas trip for Sarah, so concerned members of Dutch Fork Baptist Church in Ballentine decided early this year to try to raise the money for them.

Their goal was to raise $30,000 during the next year.

With the help of other organizations and individuals, they have raised more than $64,000 in little more than two months.

More than 60 churches and hundreds of individuals contributed to the fund through private donations while other people and businesses donated materials for fund-raising activities.

Some of the early supporters of Sarah’s cause- there are too many to list them all – include the Dutch Fork Church, the Columbia Metro Baptist Association, the towns of South Congaree and Pine Ridge, the S. C. chapter of the National Organization of Women in Construction, South Congaree Baptist Church and 2nd Congressional District Re. Floyd Spence.

Irmo High School, WZLD radio station, the Friarsgate Gulf station, Blaney Baptist Church and Trend Setters Beauty Shop also sponsored activities to raise money for the child’s trip.

Organizations in Madisonville, Kentucky, where the Rays are from, also raised money for Sarah.

(See Sarah page 2)

Caption: Happy family Alice Ray cradles her daughter Sarah Tuesday at Owens Field before a crowd of well-wishers, left. Pilot Durhem Harrison, above, flew the family to New York where they boarded a flight to West Germany. Sarah’s father, Gerald, will return home Sunday. Alice and Sarah will be back in two months. Staff photos by PERRY BAKER and JEFF AMBERG.


(Continued from page 1)

Pan American World Airlines offered to fly the Rays from New York to West Germany, and the Jamil Shriners offered to fly them from Columbia to New York.

Tuesday, more than 100 people came to Owens Field Airport to see Sarah, Alice and Gerald off on their trip, including Mrs. Ray’s parents who flew to Columbia from Kentucky. They displayed banners which said “God Loves You, Sarah.” and “Our Love is in Action.”

Many cried as they hugged the passengers good-bye.

“This is the best Easter present anyone could recieve,” one member of Dutch Fork Baptist Church said as the plane took off.

Because people were so generous to Sarah’s story, she, her mother and father are at the clinic in Germany, Gerald will return to South Carolina Sunday, and Sarah and Alice will return in two months.

When the child returns, enough money will be left in her fund to pay for the one year maintenance program she must undergo.

“They would never have accomplished this in Kentucky. I just can’t believe it,” Mrs. J. D. Jennings, Mrs. Ray’s mother said.

April 15, 1982  Columbia Record (published as The Columbia Record)  Columbia, South Carolina
Page 101
April 15, 1982  Columbia Record (published as The Columbia Record)  Columbia, South Carolina
Page 102

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