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Juggler says, 'God told me to come'

Published March 31, 2005

PINELLAS PARK - He prayed about whether he should drive to Florida and visit the hospice. Then he got an answer, said 32-year-old Nathan Dorrell.

"God told me to come," Dorrell said, "and juggle."

So Dorrell loaded his pregnant wife and two children into their minivan and made the 480-mile drive from Temple, Ga. The family arrived at Hospice House Woodside on Wednesday morning and unpacked in a shady spot.

Dorrell, wearing a fluorescent orange tie that squiggled down his chest, tossed his silver juggling clubs into the air. They glimmered in the sunlight, drawing the attention of dozens of protesters sitting nearby.

Some weren't pleased. This was not the time, they told Dorrell, for juggling.

But Dorrell smiled and kept on. He tossed his clubs to his wife, 33-year-old Kathy Dorrell, who juggles nearly as well. Dorrell taught her to juggle the first time they met, at a best friend's wedding shower, and she has been juggling ever since.

The self-described evangelists have made a career out of it, traveling around the Southeast, juggling for church groups and disabled children. Their little girl, 18-month-old Abigail, sat quietly in her stroller, rarely looking at her parents as she played with a stuffed giraffe named Gussy. ("When she has Gussy, she's not fussy," Dorrell said. )

The Dorrells said they wanted to juggle for the crowd, whose signs have faded in the sunlight and rain. They also came to show their support for Terri Schiavo.

"Everyone has a right to life," Nathan Dorrell said.

He said he thought God could, if he wanted, make Schiavo get up and walk again. But if that wasn't in God's plan, Dorrell said, that would be okay, too.

"If she puts her hope in Jesus," he said, "she'll be eating and drinking again in heaven."

By mid afternoon, the Dorrells had switched to juggling tennis balls.

Several yards away, a television cameraman turned to his colleague: "You see that guy juggling over there?"

The other man laughed.

"Now it really is a circus," he said.

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