FBC Sportsman's Banquet called off; many don't want ticket refunds

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - His journey has inspired people sever since he and his dog Orient took their first tentative steps on the Appalachian Trail in 1990, and now that inspiration is continuing to bring out the best in many folks.

Bill Irwin is known for being the first and so only blind person to hike the length of the trail.  Irwin has written books about the experience, and until recently, has traveled extensively speaking about his faith and his adventure.

Irwin was supposed to be in Salisbury tonight to speak at the annual Sportsman's Banquet at First Baptist Church, but died unexpectedly on Saturday morning.

Rod Kerr, the Minister of Education at FBC and organizer of the banquet, said after the church announced the cancellation of the event, something unexpected happened; many of those who bought advance tickets decided no to get a refund, but instead insisted that the money go to Irwin's widow.

Kerr says he was expecting between 800-1000 to attend the event, and it would have been the biggest one in the event's 10 year history.  While Kerr has made it clear that he will refund the price of any ticket, he told WBTV that many say they don't want their money back.

Kerr offered that for anyone who wanted, he would take the money and donate it to the Irwin family, particularly Irwin's wife, Debra.

Irwin's message continues to be spread with the sale of his book's, cd's, and dvd's.

Kerr is asking that people in the community keep the Irwin family in their prayers.