With tears, song and dance, dozens of people participated in the annual Miracle Prayer Walk on Saturday, an event focused on healing sick Rochester residents. The group walked for two hours, from Mayo Clinic Hospital-Saint Marys Campus to the Peace Plaza, as temperatures soared to 94 degrees.

“Some people are just fair weather friends. You guys are true friends. Didn't matter what the weather was, you showed up,” the Rev. Ilene Blanche proclaimed through a megaphone to a crowd of cheering attendees.

Since 2014, the International House of Prayer has organized the walk. IHOP, for short, is designated as a healing refuge and place of prayer in Rochester’s downtown, and was Blanche's brainchild.

"So many people come to Rochester as a place of healing. They need spiritual healing as much as they need physical healing," said Cecil Bellephant, a participant and a pastor.

Cecil Bellephant leads a prayer during the June 5 Miracle Prayer Walk.
Cecil Bellephant leads a prayer during the June 5 Miracle Prayer Walk. Nora Eckert

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As the group walked past the Gift of Life Transplant House, patients peeked out of their windows and waved. It was an emotional experience for participants, as many broke down in tears during prayers and song.

Sam Smith has been attending the walks for a few years. He's seen an internal healing of his own during that time.

"I was dead man walking and (God) has raised me to life," said Smith, breaking down in tears. "I found the reason of where I was going and what I was going to." Smith is nearing three years of sobriety and credits his faith community for empowering him along the way.

Han Vorwerk had his hands full during the walk, pushing two children in a stroller and holding another to his chest. Even as sweat dripped off his brow and his kids' cheeks grew a rosy, he said it was worth it to show up.

"There's a bigger reason we are here," Vorwerk, a Rochester resident, said.

Han Vorwerk walks with his three children during the Miracle Prayer Walk on June 5.
Han Vorwerk walks with his three children during the Miracle Prayer Walk on June 5. Nora Eckert

Some attendees participated for the first time this year. Dayo Dosumu heard about the event through her church.

"I feel happy. I feel privileged to stand for the Lord, and to be proud of what God is doing in the city of Rochester," she said.

Uzo Abiri, Ediri Abiri and Dayo Dosumu participate in their first Miracle Prayer Walk on June 5, 2021.
Uzo Abiri, Ediri Abiri and Dayo Dosumu participate in their first Miracle Prayer Walk on June 5, 2021.

Parading down Second Street Southwest, the group was cheered on by passersby until they reached the Peace Plaza, where members of Teen Challenge — a Christian group aiding those who face struggles such as substance abuse — shared a dance. Many went to a microphone to share testimonies about how their lives had been changed by God, as people held up their hands and embraced.

"Every one of us has been called to heal the sick," Blanche said.

Elizabeth Clark dances in the Peace Plaza at the end of the Miracle Prayer Walk on June 5.
Elizabeth Clark dances in the Peace Plaza at the end of the Miracle Prayer Walk on June 5. Nora Eckert