The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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June 27, 2013

Heaven is for Real event held Friday in Mankato

For Todd and Sonja Burpo of Imperial, Neb., a short vacation quickly became a nightmarish struggle when their young son’s appendix ruptured.

Untreated for six days, the abscess filled with poison. Not yet 4 years old, little Colton very nearly died if not for an emergency surgery at a hospital in Colorado.

The young boy’s struggle, recovery and seemingly miraculous life-and-death vision into heaven spawned a ministry, a bestselling book -- and, now, an appearance in Mankato.

Keystone Promotions, a small group of volunteers led by Karen Skow of St. James, is bringing the Heaven is for Real live event to the Taylor Center/Bresnan Arena at Minnesota State University at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.

“Our primary goal is to get this message to the community while finding a way to give back to our youth,” Skow said, noting that a portion of all proceeds will benefit the Fellowship for Christian Athletes and the BackPack Food Program.

As for the Burpos, parents Todd and Sonja said they found their faith in God tested when they were given no promises regarding Colton’s survival rate when he went in for surgery in March 2003.

When he came out, Colton immediately called for his father saying, “You know I almost died.”

Unsure as to why Colton would make such a statement, Todd, a Pastor of Crossroads Wesleyan Church of Imperial, changed the subject.

“The truth was I was not ready to face that possibility. I didn’t want to talk about death,” Todd said. “I didn’t want Colton to think giving up was an option.”

Four months later, the family passed through North Platte on a family trip to South Dakota. The familiar terrain sparked a conversation regarding Colton’s previous stay in the hospital.

In an Arby’s parking lot, Colton, who was by now 4 years old, revealed the location of his parents during that fateful night of surgery.

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