PLAIN TWP. On June 19, 2016, people across Northeast Ohio were in the same state of mind: Holding their breaths in hopes the Cleveland Cavaliers could pull off a miracle and win the decisive game of the NBA Finals.
Joe Franz and Jamey Codding were no different. Friends and co-workers at the Christian Children's Home in Wooster, they were excited about the prospect of a championship.
"It was kinda like, wouldn't it be crazy if they actually won it on Father's Day? I remember that line," Codding said.
"It was the Friday before," Franz recalled. "We were all pumped up; everybody came to work wearing their Cavs gear. It was after work, we were talking on the phone, 'Father's Day. How about a Father's Day miracle?'"
They had no idea then, but the conversation set them on the path to co-writing a book, "Father's Day Miracle: Inspiring Stories from Dads, Sons, Cleveland Fans, and Men of Faith."
The book contains true stories written by 10 dads who are sports fans, including Franz and Codding; Dru Joyce II, head basketball coach at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron and a mentor to LeBron James; Will Van Nostran; Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Dave Jamerson; and Canton Repository sports writer Steve Doerschuk.
Proceeds will benefit the Christian Children's Home.
"Sometimes, for me, an idea starts with a name," Codding said, "And 'Father's Day Miracle' seemed like a cool name. We had no idea what to do with it."
"We weren't sure what we were going to do," Franz said. "We thought we'd sell T-shirts or something. Originally, it wasn't connected to the Children's Home, it was just an idea. Finally, we just said whatever God wants to do with this thing. It kept coming back to stories, so it was kind of like, 'What if we did a book of stories?'"
They bought the domain name and created a Facebook page.
"We knew we had the themes of fatherhood and sports, filtered through our faith, but we weren't sure what kinds of stories we were looking to tell," Codding said. "We just kind of landed on the intersection of fathers who were passionate about sports, and identities as followers of Christ."
Their boss, Kevin Hewitt, permitted them to work on the project during the workday.
"The impetus for both Joe and me was the importance of fatherhood," Codding continued. "In our culture, that sometimes gets lost. We love moms, we both have incredible wives who are incredible mothers, so it wasn't about diminishing the value of moms. We wanted to write a book that was by dads, for dads, that really honed in on the importance of fatherhood and how engaged and invested dads, the difference they can make in their (children's) lives."
The next generation
"As excited as we got when the Cavs won, as this theme kept growing and God kept revealing more of what this was all about... the real Father's Day miracle is what happens when children get to meet their heavenly father," Franz said. "As cool as it is to pass on our love for Cleveland sports, it's more important that we pass on our faith to the next generation. We wanted to highlight that in the book."
Dennis Welch of Houston, who is assisting Franz and Codding with marketing the book, calls sports a "bridge" through which disparate people often connect.
"I feel like the Lord has his hand on this," he said. "This is God's idea. It's a sports book, but it's more. There are universal themes running through it. Guys will feel comfortable reading it. "
Franz and Codding said the stories run the gamut, from the humorous to the painful.
"There's a message of redemption that runs through the whole book," Franz said. "The end message is that for each of those stories, there is hope."
For more information, visit http://www.fathersdaymiracle.com
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