Last week, Lyon seniors Taylor Donnerson and Ridge Hester attended the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. The recently engaged couple were invited to attend the breakfast after attending the National Student Leadership Forum (NSLF) in D.C. back in October.
Hosted by the U.S. Congress, the National Prayer Breakfast is an annual gathering where national and international leaders can connect and discuss ideas such as faith and leadership. NSLF students are invited to attend, which is how Donnerson and Hester had the opportunity to go.
“I have been involved with the National Student Leadership Forum for the past year,” said Donnerson. “Due to my involvement, I have been asked to attend other programs and even have been given the opportunity to nominate others from my institution.”
Donnerson invited her fiancé Hester to attend the NSLF in October, which led to him being invited to the breakfast.
“After the experience and engaging with other leaders and my group facilitators, Tim Coe—group leader—invited me to attend the National Prayer Breakfast,” Hester said. “I accepted the invitation and had an amazing time learning more about the principles of Jesus Christ and the principle of servant leadership.”
Donnerson and Hester both noted that the breakfast allowed guests from different backgrounds to come together.
“Leaders from all over the world including presidents from other countries such as the president of Ghana, who was a guest speaker, came together to fellowship and worship our great God,” said Hester. “The breakfast allowed for many walks of life including different religions to come together and break bread as we listened to various speakers, including the musical guests for the event — Chris Tomlin and Ed Cash.”
The couple said some of their favorite moments were hearing the various guest speakers.
“One of my favorite moments was getting to hear Tammie Shults speak about her experience with being a naval aviator,” said Donnerson. “She was [one of the first] female fighter pilots in the Navy.
Donnerson said that hearing Shults share about her emergency landing for the Southwest Airlines flight 1380 in April 2018 was “a powerful moment.”
“I was so surprised to hear how calm she was with the control center,” said Donnerson. “Just when they thought that her plane was going to go down, she assured them that she was going to land the plane. Even though she saved 148 lives, it was still hard for her because she still lost one. She is a hero in my eyes.”
Hester said some of his favorite moments were seeing President Donald Trump, the president of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. He also enjoyed small group discussions with student leaders.
“Within the group, we shared our personal stories and spoke about some highs and lows in our life,” said Hester. “To be able to have the opportunity to become vulnerable and share your personal story with others who have the same mindset and passion for Jesus Christ is such an awesome experience.”
Lyon College seniors Taylor Donnerson and Ridge Hester pose with their dog, Chance. / Image via Lyon College