Annual Focus on Life benefit dinner hopes to raise $24,000
CADILLAC — On Monday night Wexford-Missaukee Right to Life held the annual Focus on Life banquet at Cherry Grove Convention Center.
By Mardi Suhs Cadillac News May 3, 2018 Updated May 3, 2018
More than 300 attended to support the goal of raising $24,000 for the RTL of Michigan Education Fund, with $11,000 already donated in the 2018 Benefit Challenge.
Vice President Don Hoitenga provided the annual update, encouraging members "not to give up," because of last year's encouraging momentum.
And in spite of the Wexford/Missaukee Right to Life Facebook account shutdown last fall, restored later after media scrutiny, they "find that placing pro-life messages on social media is very effective."
Keynote speaker Mary Rathke boldly shared that she was conceived in rape. 'I will never stop speaking up'
"Margaret, my birth mom, was a paranoid schizophrenic and her husband was mentally handicapped," she said. "They were a good couple and they had a house in Kalkaska where they worked in a local restaurant."
But nine months after Margaret was violently assaulted and raped, Mary was born.
She was adopted at age 5 by Ursula Hunter and her husband, the restaurant owners who tried to help the couple care for the infant. Mary remembers almost nothing about her birth mom.
"When I learned about my conception story, I was in my 30s," she said. "I looked into the eyes of my son and at the lives destroyed by abortion and I told myself, 'I will never stop speaking up.'"
Learning that she was conceived in rape has shaped her life mission. Rathke has been interviewed by Dr. James Dobson and is a nationally known pro-life speaker, a minister and the founder of a non-profit. Her boldness was learned through stories told by her adoptive mom Ursula, who grew up in Germany in World War II, where her parents risked their lives to feed and clothe Jews conscripted to work in the local factory.
"Ursula's father spoke up," she said. "He spoke up in a time and place where if caught, his entire family would have been sent to a concentration camp. It didn't stop him from doing what was right. What stops us? Can you look at me and say you are pro-life except in the case of Mary Rathke? When you put a name and a face to an issue, it's harder to justify."
Rathke has witnessed the compassion people have for rape victims that conceive. But, she wondered, where is the compassion for the child?
"My mother and I were both victims," she said. "You don't kill one victim to make the other feel better. Pregnancy is temporary. Death is permanent. Raped women need care, compassion, love and help. Both victims need care and compassion. One of them does not need death."
Youth speaker Christian Dresen
Christian Dresen, the 2017 RTL Oratory Contest winner from Sterling Heights, shared his winning oration that proposed a philosophical approach to the pro-life issue. The college student challenged the audience to show empathy and love for those who champion against a child's right to life.
Wexford/Missaukee Right to Life works to protect life from fertilization to natural death. For information on their monthly meetings, call (231) 839-2743.