She’s Up in the Air to raise awareness of children in need

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Cheri Pitcher of Niles will hopefully not have to battle the elements in her perch ontop the roof of the Niles Inn and Conference Center this week.
But if she does, it won't be the first time Pitcher, who is a registered nurse at the Veterans Administration Clinic in South Bend, Ind., has "roughed" it.
A Boys and Girls Missionary Crusade teacher at Michiana Christian Embassy, Pitcher will be living on the roof of the Niles Inn for a week to raise money and awareness of children in African countries, many of whom are orphans as a result of AIDS.
She joins other church leaders in camping out on the roofs and other "Up in the Air" places in nine different states throughout the country from Sept. 7 to Sept. 14.
Before getting ready to be swung up onto the roof by a Niles City Fire Department ladder truck on Sunday afternoon, Pitcher had time for a few words.
She remembers her husband, Bernie's, last words before they went to bed on Saturday evening.
Although perhaps a little nervous, Pitcher, who for the next week will be sleeping on an air-mattress; have an open tent where she can escape the sun during the day, and is allowed one shower each day, seemed more excited than anything else about her upcoming adventure.
Kathy Moore, a Michiana Christian Embassy youth pastor, isn't worried that a lack of facilities will be a problem for Pitcher.
Moore, who has been on mission trips herself, also knows what money and aid means for children in developing countries.
She thinks it's crucial to continue the work to improve the lives of those children.
Pastor Jeff Whittaker, also with the Michiana Christian Embassy, said Pitcher won't be alone on the roof during the coming week, which weather forecasters indicate is going to warm.
Whittaker, like many others, will visit Pitcher and help her receive phone calls from people who call to make donations, but also to call and seek donations from people.
Whittaker, who said his congregation is excited about the fund raising effort, said local businesses and individuals have been supportive of the event.
The many signs on a patch of grass as you enter the Niles Inn parking lot indicates the amount of people who have been willing to contribute either their time or money in support of the event.
Pitcher's husband, Bernie, was also present on Sunday afternoon to see his wife get lifted onto the roof.
When he first heard of what his wife was planning to do, he thought she was crazy.
But having had time to get used to the idea, he is excited and glad his wife is able to do what she enjoys doing.
Like Whittaker, Bernie, who works as a nurse at Lakeland Hospital in Niles, will visit his wife as often as he can when he's not at work.
Ray Allan, a Michiana Christian Embassy member, thinks Pitcher is doing what she is doing for a great cause.
He gave Cheri his best wishes from down at the Niles Inn parking lot on Sunday.
He thinks the fund-raiser is a good opportunity to raise awareness here about some of the issues children in developing countries face.
The Niles Inn parking lot will be the venue for activities and games on Sunday, Sept. 14, from noon to 6 p.m. that brings the "Up in the Air of Kids" event to an end.
To make a donation, call (574) 232-KIDS.

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