The turnout for the Cade Boyle celebration and fundraiser hosted by Abundant Life Church Saturday far surpassed expectations — and that came well before the halfway point.

“It’s been overwhelming,”  Deana Johnson, a member of the Women of Purpose from Abundant Life Church said Saturday morning. “The first hour was incredible, people just swarmed in. We had our prayer at the beginning and the release of the Cade balloons. It’s just been amazing the turnout from the community, the people who have volunteered and donated and the businesses that have come. People are just coming in waves. We’re really blessed. God really had His hand in this fundraiser from the get go.”

The four-hour family fun event, which took place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., was originally scheduled before’s Cade passing on June 16. Members of the church met with Cade’s family, and the decision was made to hold the event to honor the 9-year-old, who was diagnosed with Stage IV Ewings Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, in January 2012.

“We were hoping and praying Cade would be able to be here and be a part of this,” Johnson said. “It was really sad when we heard of his passing and we thought, do we go ahead and do it or not? We talked to his mother and she said let’s do it. So this means that much more as a church family being able to proceed with the fundraiser. The church was in agreement we should honor Cade and bless his family.”

KPSM radio held a remote broadcast from the church, where activities included a garage sale that was set to take place inside the church, but so many items were donated a portion had to be moved outside into the parking lot. Brisket burritos, Kettle corn, ice cream and a cake walk were also available for those with growling stomachs, while the kids were kept entertained by a shark’s mouth water slide, rock-climbing wall, dunking booth and photo booth.  

“It’s been a very emotional day,” Johnson said. “There have been happy emotions, with some tears here and there, but Cade would be happy. He would want all of us to have a good time.”

Information was not available Saturday on how much money the event generated for the family of Cade Boyle.