EUGENE, MO. - A year ago, the O'Day family was invited to watch the first CO2 car race held by Hickory Hill Baptist Church.
On Saturday, all four of them - John and Tina, 18-year-old Taylor and 13-year-old Jeffery - raced and showed cars.
Between events, the O'Days began to attend church soon after the first race and within six months the entire family was baptized together.
Then, Tina and John renewed their wedding vows and they began to see positive changes in their family life.
"We saw how fun and nice these people were and wanted to be a part of that," Tina said. "We came closer as a family and when times got hard, we've looked upon God and he helps us out."
When the O'Days fell on hard times, their new church family reached out with support and comfort, Tina said.
"It's been amazing."
More than that, the family has found a place where they are welcome and there are plenty of wholesome activities to do as a family.
"They really do a lot of stuff to get families together," Tina said.
That has become an intentional mission of the Eugene church, to reach out to youths and their families, said Michelle Hale.
After her husband, Robert, coordinated last year's CO2 car race, the church began a weekly AWANA children's program in the fall. Next up is "Put on the Whole Armor of God" Vacation Bible School in June.
The Hales and several other church members organized nearly two months of weekly get-togethers for the more than 30 racers to carve and design their cars.
"It's all about loving one another, being kind to one another and helping one another," Robert said.
The car race event was not limited to church members, either. Several denominations and social backgrounds were represented.
The Hales hope the 2014 race will draw even more participants from the area.
"It's good, inside fun," Robert said.