Rise Above It

by Stephanie Fritz '10

APUs 25th Annual Night of Champions encouraged audience members to “Rise Above It,” quoting Isaiah 40:31 which says, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” The event drew approximately 2,000 Southern California teenagers, and their pastors, coaches, teachers, parents, and friends for a day of fun, entertainment, and inspirational guest speakers.

Participants joined in the nights festivities for $10 admission, which included a Night of Champions T-shirt, a Bible, a meal from In-N-Out, and a concert. The outdoor program before the concert offered games, a car show, and performances by the APU women's step team, UMOJA.

The evening portion opened with the Grammy-nominated, Dove Award-winning Day of Fire, a Christian rock band from Nashville, Tennessee. Lead vocalist Josh Brown shared his testimony and how he came to know the Lord, before entertaining the crowd with their lively, inspired music. Next, APU alumna Julie Swail Ertel, a 2000 Olympic silver medalist water polo player and 2008 Olympic triathlete, shared her journey on her walk with Christ and her experience at the Olympics. Ertel competed in the triathlon events at the 2008 Beijing Olympics where she placed 19th.

Next, Louis Dimas, a leukemia cancer patient, shared about being diagnosed in April 2004. He talked to the audience about how upset and hurt he was at the time. He made friends with similar diagnoses while in the hospital, many of who did not survive. He has since ended treatment and is now a cancer survivor.

APU alumnus Bryan Clay '03 wrapped up Night of Champions. Clay won the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the decathlon. Ed Barron, radio host of "Today's Champions" interviewed Clay about his athletic achievements and how God brought him to where he is today.