Darryl Strawberry shares comeback story at LUCOM medical outreach gala
Last Saturday, Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine (LUCOM) hosted its third annual Helping Hands Gala to celebrate the efforts of the Office of Clinical Collaboration and Education (OCCE) and to raise money for future domestic and international medical outreach.
This year’s keynote speaker was World Series champion and pastor Darryl Strawberry. On the field, Strawberry had great success in baseball, winning a total of four World Series titles with the New York Mets and New York Yankees. He earned a Hall of Fame nomination in 2004. But at the height of his fame, he struggled in his personal life with addictions, abuse, cancer, divorce, and even jail time.
“Looking back on my life, my history playing baseball, and the money I had, the stuff I had — it didn’t mean anything — I just had stuff,” Strawberry said. “It was a broken platform. I was broken. When people look at my life back then, it’s easy to assume I had it all together. But I was broken, and it led to destructive behavior. But then God used it; He used me for His glory.”
Strawberry and his wife, Tracy, founded Strawberry Ministries to help restore relationships and lives through Christ. He also co-founded the Darryl Strawberry Recovery Center in Orlando, Fla., which offers a 28-day residential program designed to help those suffering from drug and alcohol abuse, as well as mental illness.
“It doesn’t matter who you are; we all have issues,” Strawberry said. “But Christ uses our issues to restore us and bless others. It’s amazing when we understand biblical principles, and why we serve, and what can happen when we do.”
OCCE director James Cook gave an overview of LUCOM’s outreach work for the year. Through partnerships with more than 45 hospitals around the world, student-doctors can now participate in four-year medical rotations in Africa, Central America, and South America. (Read about LUCOM’s partnership with Samaritan’s Purse.)
“Our office is supported by donors, partners, and prayer warriors, and the Helping Hands Gala is a thank-you to them,” Cook said. “Ultimately, it is a praise and affirmation of God’s blessings upon our college and the work of our students.”
Attendants also heard from second-year student-doctor Victoria Gerthe, who talked about the personal impact of these medical outreach opportunities. She and her husband, Brian, traveled on LUCOM’s annual trip to Guatemala in 2017. There, the couple met Rosa, 56, at one of LUCOM's community clinics. Rosa was fitted with a temporary brace to help her with complications from a broken elbow six years earlier.
This year, the Gerthes returned to Guatemala where they gave Rosa a permanent, molded plastic orthotic brace.
“God truly used Brian and Victoria to be a blessing in Rosa’s life,” Cook said. “This is just one of the many stories unfolding through God’s blessing and a testament to what our office tries to do for LUCOM.”
More than $10,000 was raised from the gala to provide medicine, supplies, and support for both domestic and international medical outreach events.