Artist Shawn McDonald makes surprise appearance at recovery forum

By Paul Suarez, Columbian freelance

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A Christian Recording Artist made a surprise appearance at the 10th annual recovery from at the Lord's Gym on Thursday.

Shawn McDonald, a native of Bend and Eugene, Ore., came to speak about using drugs in the past, being arrested and changing his life, Sgt. Shane Gardner said in an e-mail.

In between stories McDonald performed songs.

The recovery forum is an annual event to recognize and celebrate those who are working to live a life without addiction.

Each year the event has entertainment, guest speakers, resources tables, raffle prizes and child care options for people with families, said Geoff Knapp with Clark County Community Services, who helped plan the event.

Organizers kept McDonald's appearance at the forum, which is free to attend, a secret to prevent fans from "crashing" the event, Gardner said.

"Shawn has a story he can share above and beyond the norm," Knapp said.

Knapp wasn't positive on how many people attended but he was told that Lifeline Connections, an event sponsor, was planning to barbecue somewhere around 400 hamburgers.

"We wanted this to be a special treat for those who are giving back to their community everyday by living purposefully drug and alcohol free," Gardner said. "We cannot arrest our way out of the drug problem. The answer is in strong partnerships between treatment, prevention, enforcement and restoration."

McDonald will perform in a concert at 7 p.m. Friday at Crossroads Community Church, 7708 N.E. 78th St. in Vancouver. Tickets are $9 at the door. Event organizers will also be collecting canned food to be donated to a local food pantry.