Amy Grant: Granting an Alabama, Big Oak Wish

When Amy Grant takes the stage at Samford University’s Wright Center September 20 for a concert benefiting Big Oak Ranch, a near 25-year-old wish will come true.Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 5.20.55 PM


The story of the wish begins with 1989 Westminster Christian School graduate Maureen Willard. The very next year Big Oak Ranch acquired the Rainbow City, Ala. school and it became Westbrook Christian School. However, in 1988, a year before graduation, Maureen was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The illness continued to worsen resulting in Magic Moments offering her one wish. While pondering the decision during treatment, Maureen would listen to Amy Grant’s music. Maureen’s wish became to visit the Grammy award winning singer/songwriter and encourage her to perform a concert benefitting Big Oak Ranch. Maureen had a deep love for Westminster Christian, Big Oak Ranch and their work. Her father Bill Willard explains, “The loving Christian environment of Westminster contributed significantly to the development of Maureen’s strong faith and commitment to Jesus Christ. After her illness made further studies impossible, work as a volunteer at the Ranch gave meaning, purpose and fulfillment to her final days.” Maureen’s dream of meeting Amy Grant was fulfilled, but she passed away before her wish for a concert could come true…until now. Auxiliary of Big Oak Ranch member Susan Taylor reached out to Amy about being a part of the Auxiliary’s 10-year anniversary celebration. “When all the pieces started falling into place we fully believed that this was a God ordained event and even though Maureen is not here her wish is still being honored,” Taylor said.

Gail Garner charter board member, and second Vice President of the auxiliary was there when Phyllis DePiano and Joann Bashinsky started the organization 10 years ago because they wanted to help provide extras for the Ranch. One result is an amazing system for the children to earn points to spend at a boutique for girls and an outfitters shop for boys. Academic achievement, obeying rules and reciting Bible verses earn points. Funds raised from the September 20 concert featuring Amy Grant will allow the boutique to buy clothes, shoes, and jewelry. Additionally, the funds will also provide the outfitters shop with items such as paintball and sporting equipment as well as electronic games and gas cards for boys to purchase with the points they have accumulated. “We don’t take donations of used goods because these children deserve to have the best. We get the money for the boutique and outfitters, as well as other items the Auxiliary provides from fundraising activities and donations,” GScreen Shot 2016-08-29 at 5.20.49 PMarner said. “Each year we also buy laptops for graduating high school seniors from the Ranch.

The cause for Amy Grant’s concert couldn’t be more noble. Maureen wanted to pray about her wish and God heard her call. 25 years later her wish will come true on the campus of Samford University and Maureen’s family from as far away as Michigan will be there. To learn more visit To be a part of this event visit or call 726-2853.

-Brian Hill


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