By Debbie Shelley

Assistant Editor

When LSU graduate Blake McKee, 26, was critically injured after the Nov. 3 LSU vs. Alabama game, his friends and many people in his hometown of Hammond prayed that God would help him heal. God answered their pleas, which has drawn them closer together and increased their belief in the power of prayer.

 

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Blake McKee, right, was a groomsman in the wedding of his good friend Grady Seale, second from right, who married another good friend of McKee, Morgan Scherer Seale. At the wedding rehearsal with McKee and Grady Seale are, from left, friends Lee Emery and Billy Cormier. Photo provided by Morgan Seale

 

An avid LSU fan, McKee was walking home after the football game when he was hit by a silver or light colored 1999-2002 Honda Accord EX. Suffering from severe head trauma, he was taken to a local hospital where doctors removed part of his skull to relieve the swelling in his brain and put him on life support.

Morgan Seale, a good friend of McKee, said, “People were at the hospital feeling helpless and asking the family what they could do. The family said, ‘All you can do is pray.’ ”

McKee’s friends decided to have a prayer service. Seale, Trisha Labbé, director of religious education at Holy Ghost Church in Hammond, and Tricia Jarratt, a member of the Marian Servants of the Visitation in Hammond, organized a service that was held at the church on Nov. 12. The service included praying a rosary of hope, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, reading Scripture and lighting candles by McKee’s friends. People brought photographs and shared stories about McKee. T-shirts with the logo “Team Blake” were sold to help offset McKee’s medical expenses. The church was decorated in purple and gold.

The young adults invited people to the service through social and traditional media, and about 400-500 people attended the event, according to Labbé. “When we think of faith, hope and love … and love is the greatest of these … it’s love that drew them there,” Labbé said.

Additionally, the service was live streamed so McKee’s mother, Judy, could watch the event from his bedside at the hospital, and his friends who could not attend the service could see it as well.

Seale said after they prayed the rosary, the lights of the church were turned off and the glow from the candles illuminated the church. “We were in a powerful prayer mode,” Seale said.

God answered people’s prayers for McKee’s recovery the next day. He had been heavily sedated but as doctors prepared to perform a tracheotomy and place a feeding tube in his stomach, he awoke.

McKee squeezed his brother’s hand to show he recognized his words. Blake McKee’s first words to his brother were, “What’s up boy?” said Brad McKee.

He said his brother has a long way to go, but is making progress. Blake McKee’s short-term memory is impaired, but he is healing. Brad McKee said it means a lot to his family to see his brother’s friends and people of the community rallying behind him.

Seale said Blake McKee, who grew up with her and her husband and attended Holy Ghost School, St. Thomas Aquinas High School and LSU with them, was their “biggest cheerleader” and was a groomsman in their wedding. She said while she and her friends have kept in touch during the years, coming together to support McKee has rekindled their friendships, many which began in elementary school, and has brought their faith “front and center.”

“You hear about miracles happening every day, but until you’ve experienced something this close, it doesn’t seem real,” Seale said.

Donnie Chaucer, another friend of Blake McKee who also attended Holy Ghost School, St. Thomas Aquinas and LSU with him, said he was out of town when he received a call about his friend’s accident. He said his heart dropped and he came home to be with the McKee family.

“You name it, we’ve been through it together,” said Chaucer. The accident is a big trial to go through, but Chaucer noted that God is with them through it.

“The evidence is very clear that our prayers were answered in that the next day he was taken off the tubes within 12 hours of the prayer service,” Chaucer said.

He added that McKee’s accident and recovery have caused the seeds of faith that were sown in his and his friends’ lives to take root and mature. “We’ve been told all our lives that the power of prayer is mighty. Blake is an example of that,” Chaucer said.

Kyle Clements, who grew up with Blake McKee, said his friend is like a brother to him. “It’s a terrible thing to get a phone call in general that someone has been in an accident, much less someone you are close to.”

Clements said the Nov. 12 prayer inspired him. “It was very comforting to do exactly what we needed to be doing, which was praying.”

McKee’s accident and recovery has brought clarity and perspective to Clements’ faith life and has shown him that God is moved by prayer.

“It’s made my prayer life more active,” Chaucer said.