By Rich Brown
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Scott Hettinger’s book-signing event this month marked the end of a labor of love inspired both by God and the faith shown by survivors of last year’s Joplin tornado.
The Webb City man, a former teacher and coach at Carthage High School, said he wrote “5/22: Stories of Survival, Stories of Faith” to emphasize how people got through the disaster with their trust in God.
The year-long task of interviewing survivors and long hours of writing climaxed with a book-signing at For-All Bible and Music Center at Northpark Mall in Joplin.
The 437-page book, which provides 65 stories of those who survived the tornado, is based on Hettinger’s interviews with victims and their families. It not only details what tornado survivors went through but, also, how they were able to cope in the aftermath.
All proceeds from the book will be turned over to the non-profit organization Rebuild Joplin and go toward building a new home for a tornado victim.
The book is on sale for $31 at For-All Bible and Walgreens in Joplin as well as online at amazon.com or dorrancebook store.com. A copy may also be obtained by emailing Hettinger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hettinger had hoped the book would be out before May 22, the anniversary of the tornado, but the first copies did not go on sale until the middle of June. In handling the book, Dorrance Publishing Co. has sent copies to 20 different retailers, with hopes that Wal-mart would be another of those in the near future.
Hettinger, co-owner of Overtime Gym in Webb City, said his only previous writing experience was on college research papers, but the work on this effort had to do as much with interviewing as writing.
“All the stories in this book are what I wrote from my interviews,” he said. “This is the survivors’ stories word-for-word. It is also from what God put on my heart.”
Hettinger said he drove into Joplin two days after the deadly tornado touched down to see if he could provide assistance but sadly realized he couldn’t do anything because of his paralysis and being confined to a wheelchair.
Then, one night after praying and going to sleep, he said he awakened in the early-morning hours with the idea of writing the book as a way of showing God’s strength and presence in the middle of the storm.
Hettinger began his interviews a month after the tornado, gathering as many as 300 story possibilities but having to narrow the field for publication purposes.
He said his three reasons for writing the book are to help people heal, give back to the city and let people know that God was there during the tornado.
With his emotions running the gamut from grief to joy, he said that much of what he learned in his interviews often left him speechless.
Address correspondence to Rich Brown, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802, or email email@example.com.