As a DeSoto City man lay in a hospital bed fighting for his life, an estimated 500 people crammed the Sebring’s downtown circle Wednesday to ask God to heal him.
As of Thursday, Jonny Tanner remained in critical condition at Lakeland Regional Medical Center after suffering traumatic brain injury and broken bones when he was hit by a car last weekend while walking along DeSoto City Road.
The Rev. Tim Taylor, pastor of Lake Placid Church of the Nazarene, told attendees that God has supernatural powers that can heal a person and that God is not limited to doing what man can do.
He asked that God touch Tanner and heal him.
“That is what we’re praying for,” he said.
Participants said the large turnout at the vigil showed that Tanner is well-loved in the community.
People donated money to help his family pay expenses relating to staying in Lakeland.
The Desoto City Volunteer Fire Department, 4612 Desoto Road, will hold a car wash on April 28 from 10 a.m. to the last car arrives to raise money for Tanner and his family.
He was remembered as a former DeSoto City volunteer firefighter and a youth baseball coach.
He previously was a member of Sebring Church of the Nazarene and later joined First Baptist Church of Sebring. He coached baseball at both churches and coached traveling youth teams.
Friends said that Tanner was doing his daily walk when he was hit by the car. Mitchell Landoll Rodriguez, 5115 Sebring Road, was charged with driving while license suspended, second offense and failure to remain at an accident scene involving an accident with injuries.
Diane Pollard, a family friend, organized the candlelight vigil Wednesday evening.
She said Tanner grew up in the Sebring area and is a “wonderful, funny, fun-loving guy who loves people and loves life.” She said he’s a Christian and that he loves God and his family.
Pollard, like many of those who attended the vigil, wore a Florida State University Seminole T-Shirt because that is Tanner’s favorite team, she said.
Rene Jolliff, a friend of Tanner who also is a volunteer firefighter, said that when Tanner would arrive at a fire with firefighters “he would always ask where the buffet was.”
“He always makes you laugh,” she said.