OBERLIN — Underneath a pavilion on the property of Common Grounds on Baird Road, nearly 100 people waited with anticipation for their turn to walk across a bed of burning embers.
But before walking across the fire, certified firewalk instructor Dave Tuscany told the somewhat apprehensive audience to not let fear dictate their lives.
“The lesson is about facing your fear and then applying what you learn here to your life,” Tuscany said.
Tuscany said that for many fear can run, even ruin, lives.
The feeling of fear can be debilitating, exhausting, painful and even deadly.
“You have to push through fear while feeling it,” Tuscany said.
Before participants could walk across the 15-foot bed of white cedar wood, the fire had to burn down to only embers.
And even as the rain fell, no one was worried.
“The rain will not stop us tonight,” Tuscany told the crowd.
As a drum rhythm provided a ritualistic atmosphere and the 15-foot bed of white cedar wood slowly burned, it was the declarations of self-worth that were heard throughout property in the Vermilion River Valley.
Margarita Padua, 16, of Lorain, quickly walked across the fire as her mother stood by in amazement.
“I did this because it’s a good experience and I hope it will help me grow as a person,” she said.
While Margarita walked on fire as a way to signal a positive future, others were declaring “I am valuable;” “I am not alone;” “I am fearless;” and “I am doing this.”
Before walking across the fire, participants of the seventh annual Gregg Gilder Memorial Firewalk broke wooden boards, walked on shards of glass and broke arrows by pressing the arrow against a wooden board and applying pressure.
After one woman broke the wooden board, she began crying.
Common Grounds executive director Rick Grahovac said the reaction after people experience a life-changing event is generally a remarkable energy.
“It’s more than just walking across a fire, it’s about facing your fear,” Grahovac said.