He was kidnapped and brutally murdered nine years ago this weekend, but today the mother of Chad Choice, 8, celebrated a ministry that was born out of that tragedy.
KTLV 7 News was at the service as the founder of C.H.A.D.'s Ministry, which stands for Church's Hour Against Darkness, thanked volunteers who have been with her since the beginning.
Karen Choice was in church when she heard the news that would change her life forever. "We got a phone call, and it was my daughter, and she said, 'Did Chad come with you?' And I said, 'No.' She said, 'We can't find him'," Karen said.
It was October 13, 1991. Someone kidnapped Chad from his north Tyler home. Despite a massive man-hunt, there was no sign of him for four years.
Karen said, of the days following the abduction, "There were days I didn't sleep. I was just walking. It's fear. It's apprehension. It's who, what, where, because you don't know."
Around the fourth anniversary of his disappearance, the man who would later be convicted of Chad's murder, Patrick Horn, left a grocery sack with the boy's remains in it on his uncle's doorstep. With it, there was a note saying the murder was payback for a drug debt.
In 1996, before the trial was even over, Chad's mother started C.H.A.D.'s Ministry. They provide food, job training and substance abuse counseling to those in crisis. They also give shelter to women and children who are trying to get out of dangerous situations.
Today, volunteers with C.H.A.D.'s Ministry came together to give thanks for the blessings born out of such a tragic situation.
"When you see a person come in through the doors of C.H.A.D.'s house, it's like they have this cloud of darkness over them. Then, you can begin to see the light of day emerge. You can begin to see the sun just break forth in them. It's healing, because you know they have been in the depths of where you have been," said Karen.
Karen says seeing God bring her clients out of the depths of despair is healing for her soul. She hopes C.H.A.D.'s Ministry is a legacy her son would be proud of.