Banquet Organizers 'Excited' About Turnout, Involvement
08 Oct 2010 — Messenger-Inquirer
By Beth Wilberding, Messenger-Inquirer
Organizers say Right to Life of Owensboro's annual banquet attracted one of its largest crowds this year.
Nearly 700 residents made reservations for Thursday night's banquet at the Hines Center, said Laura Ebelhar, president of Right to Life of Owensboro's board of directors.
'It's amazing,' she said earlier on Thursday. 'We think it's incredible. So many people are making a point to step forward and show their support for us and our missions. We're very impressed with the community at large. We're very excited about it.'
The annual banquet is Right to Life of Owensboro's largest fundraiser of the year. Money raised goes towards the organization's educational campaigns, including the billboards it places around town and radio and newspaper advertisements.
'Our mission is to educate about life, so we use the money to create educational campaigns essentially,' Ebelhar said.
Right to Life's guest speaker was Heather Gemmen Wilson, author of 'Startling Beauty: My Journey from Rape to Restoration.' Gemmen was raped in her home and became pregnant as a result of the sexual assault.
She told the group that she had three options: Keep and raise the baby, which she initially ruled out; put the baby up for adoption; or have an abortion.
'I'm ashamed to say how tempting that was,' she said. 'I grew up in a family that was pro-life.'
Though Wilson and her then-husband initially asked a married couple they were friends with to adopt the child, the couple ultimately decided to keep her child, a daughter.
She described her daughter as being 'the one startling beauty that could come from something so painful.'
Wilson encouraged the group to 'trust God in whatever situation you're in.'
'I do know God can do powerful things through your situation if you trust Him,' she said.
She is the fifth generation in her family to have breast cancer. She delivered a healthy baby girl, Rachel, last Thanksgiving Day.
Vandiver and her husband, Andrew, also have a son, Simon.
Erika Vandiver went through chemotherapy while she was pregnant and continued treatment after Rachel was born. Vandiver had surgery for a bilateral mastectomy, then later to have her fallopian tubes and ovaries removed because she had a high risk of ovarian cancer.
Vandiver didn't know she was receiving the award.
'Most people don't have a clue that you can have cancer, survive and have a baby. ... It's important to insure that message gets out,' she said.
Beth Wilberding, 691-7307, firstname.lastname@example.org
To Learn More:
Donations to Right to Life of Owensboro can be mailed to the organization at 1115 Tamarack Road, Suite 200, Owensboro, KY 42301, or made at www.rtlo.org. For more information about the organization, call 685-4922.
To learn more about Heather Gemmen Wilson, visit www.heathergemmen.com.
Erika Vandiver's blog is www.biologybrain-simonsays.blogspot.com.
"Banquet organizers 'excited' about turnout, involvement" Messenger-Inquirer 08 Oct 2010: C1