BY MARY KAY SWEIKAR
Danny Odomes moved to Danville from Grenada, Miss., 20 years ago to start a new life. His personal belongings consisted of a couple of changes of clothes and a treasured Bible that his mother gave him when he was 12 years old.
Danny lost his mother to cancer while he was a junior in high school. He was close to his mom, and Danny claims her death sent him on a downward spiral in life. Even though he was a star football player in high school, Danny said peer pressure caused him to make a lot of poor choices during his teen years.
Danny played football for Delta State University in Mississippi on a scholarship, but dropped out of school during his junior year. After that he worked five years as a city firefighter.
Today, Danny and his wife Kelly, son Rod, 25, and daughter Prayse, 8, feel they have a happy life in Danville. And they credit their happiness to a complete trust in God and a lot of hard work on everybody’s part.
“We want to encourage other families that with God all things are possible,” Kelly said. “But we also want them to know that it was a struggle and hard work for us to build the life that we have today.”
Danny said his mother always told him he would become a preacher someday. And following her prediction, he attended Vision Bible College in Danville and was ordained as a minister. He has preached at New Life Church of Faith and other area churches for the past eight years.
Kelly said, “It was through the leadership at our original church — Union Missionary Baptist Church — that our family really got to know about God and develop a hunger for him.”
“We chose to move to New Life Church of Faith mainly because of the vision and integrity shown by the pastor and his wife, Pastor Thomas Miller and first lady Beverly Miller,” Danny added. “They started the church 27 years ago right in their living room, and it’s grown to more than 400 members today.”
Danny leads the weekly Bible study at the church, and his whole family participates.
“This is the one time during the week that we study the Bible together,” Kelly said, “but we try to read the Bible some on our own every single day.”
In his role as minister, Danny also makes visits to those incarcerated at Danville’s city jail and offers them encouragement.
Danny first met his wife, Kelly, while she was singing in the choir at Union Missionary Baptist Church. She grew up in Danville and graduated from Danville High School.
After living here for a while, Danny fell in love with Kelly, as well as the town, and he was determined to make Danville his permanent home.
“I found the town to be very friendly and welcoming,” he said. Danny started out by living in a two-room apartment and working a variety of jobs over the years, including at McLane Midwest, AutoZone and Freight Car. For the past eight years, he has worked at Quaker Oats.
On a personal note, Danny loves to cook, so he is the proclaimed chef of the family.
Recently Danny signed up as a Big Brother to Kenjan, 10, through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.
“I feel I can make a real difference in this child’s life,” Danny said, “and that my past experiences can guide me to help someone else.”
Danny also feels it’s important to give back to the community that he calls home.
Danny is proud to say that after he planted roots in Danville he encouraged his two brothers to move to town. They both married and had families. One brother is a minister and the other is a deacon in the church.
“You could say that my family blossomed in this town,” he said.
Kelly already had a large, extended family living in the area when she and Danny met.
“I want to give special mention to my mother, Charlene Randles, who recently retired after 35 years of service with the Department of Motor Vehicles in Tilton,” Kelly said. “She was a single mother since I was 3 years old, and she worked hard to provide for my brother and me.”
Rod Odomes graduated from DHS in 2006, where he was a good student and also played basketball. In 2011, he earned a degree in business education at Blackburn College in Carlinville, where he also received a basketball scholarship. He works as an education specialist at East Central Illinois Community Action Agency in Danville, and he coaches basketball at South View Middle School.
Prayse is in third grade at First Baptist Christian School. She has been on the high honor roll since starting pre-school there. She is on the church praise dance team and sings in the youth choir. She enjoys playing soccer and softball and aspires to be a pediatrician some day.
Danny also has two grown children who live in other states, Jordan, 21, and Chantel, 25. Rod has a 5-year-old daughter, Ruby, who gets a lot of attention from her grandma and grandpa.
Kelly is the branch manager at Midwest Federal Credit Union, where she has worked 23 years. She is the choir director at New Life Church of Faith and also is the praise and worship leader there.
Danny said, “Coming to Danville was one of the best decisions I ever made. People here are so friendly, and nobody seems to be in a hurry like they are in larger towns.”
Kelly added, “Danville is a good place to raise a family, and we’re so close to the big cities of Chicago and Indianapolis.”
She added, “We are a family who loves God, family, church, and other people. We found out that God doesn’t always answer prayers the way that we want him to, but we believe that he always will answer them.”