When Devin Cammack walked into Victorious Life Church to deliver a single pepperoni pizza Sunday morning, he was not expecting to be part of a Christmas show and tipped $1,456.
The Assembly of God church had a production complete with orchestral numbers, dancing, the Lewisville High School choir and Santa Claus at its 10 a.m. service on Dec. 18. It also had a skit that involved bringing in a pizza delivery driver and tipping him instead of collecting tithes for the church. While the skit typically raises $300 to $400 for the unsuspecting worker, Cammack’s impending heart transplant motivated audience members to give him more than triple that amount.
As the donation hat was passed around, emcee David Hira asked Cammack to tell the congregation about himself. A father of three, daughter Sylvia and sons Vincent and Luke, Cammack wears a LVAD, or a left ventricle assist device.
The device bypasses the left ventricle of the heart and pushes 90 percent of the work load to the right side, Cammack said.
“It helps push blood through my body,” he said. “It’s not like a heart, they’re not that far into it, but it’s supposed to be a bridge for a heart transplant.”
Cammack’s heart condition began after a high-voltage box blew up while he was working in a GE wind turbine in 2008. He was exposed to the resulting arc blast, or plasma dispersal, which evaporated the moisture in the air.
A lift test consists of milk crates filled with lead weights that a person has to pick up from the ground, bring to his or her waist and then over his or her head. Cammack would get dizzy when he lifted the crates.
The doctors didn’t think to look at his heart because of his youth, he said. He recalled an Abilene doctor finally telling him he had one of the worst hearts he’d ever seen.
“Eight years ago, I was 23, at the prime of my life, had one of the best careers. Possibly asked for it at that age,” Cammack said.
When music director Noel Pearce was putting the show together, he wanted, as in all the shows he produces, to create a wow factor as well as to bless another person.
He called the Pizza Hut at 2154 State Highway 121 Business and shared with the manager what he was doing. There were going to be two productions, one Saturday evening and one Sunday morning.
“You know your people better than I do. You pick two people you know that needs a blessing,” he told the manager over the phone.
Pearce said people can be down because they don’t know for sure that anybody cares for them.
“This time of year we just have to reach out and let other people know that we do care,” he said. “There are people out there that care for them. That’s what inspired [the skit].”
Audience member Laurie Scharff was at the morning service for her son Preston’s choir performance. An LHS choir booster parent, Scharff said the act went on before the choir did. The first thing she noticed was Cammack was in shorts when it was 18 degrees out.
“My mother was there with me and we kind of looked at each other and we were like, ‘Wow, this really is kind of a Christmas miracle, isn’t it?’” she said. “[It was] part of his bit to give somebody a good tip, but it grew into something much more right there on the spot.”
Pearce said LHS students were crying backstage. Senior pastor Mark Akers said the congregation and the music director were crying.
“It was very powerful, very emotional,” Akers said.
Some of the choir students put money in the hat even though they’re not part of the church, Akers said.
“Here’s a guy, we don’t know if he’s Christian. We don’t know if he goes to church,” Akers said. “He’s just a guy with a need and Christ came to meet needs.”
Akers said this moment really highlighted the spirit of Christmas and he hopes to do something similar again in coming years.
Victorious Life Church will be having a Christmas Eve candlelight service at 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 24. There will not be Sunday school on Christmas Day but there will be a Christmas service at 10 a.m. The church is at 2671 MacArthur Blvd in Lewisville.
Pizza Hut will be closed on Christmas Day.