“I know we are going to have a memorable and moving evening,” Deacon of St Patrick Parish for the past 44 years, Michael Brooks, said as he welcomed over 500 community members from Phelps County and counties spanning the nation, who came together in Rolla to support the Pregnancy Resource Center at their 13th Annual Banquet for Life.

‘We are Winning,’ was the theme of Thursday night’s banquet that stood as a reflection of the trust placed in the Pregnancy Resource Center’s mission to provide individualized care and support to anyone facing a crisis pregnancy, while recognizing women have a right to make their own decisions about the outcome of their pregnancy and health.

The Pregnancy Resource Center was established in 2007 and has served the community ever since, working with nearly 500 women each year — with at least one baby saved each day, Joseph Dalton, Founding Executive of the Pregnancy Resource Center said. 

Dalton said, “Seventy-five percent of our clients this past year were considering abortion when they came to us. We are results oriented and your Pregnancy Resource Center is in the baby-saving business. And we take that business very seriously.”

A total of 2,931 babies have been saved since the Pregnancy Resource Center opened its doors, and the banquet’s keynote speaker, Claire Culwell, said: “As you can see your local pregnancy center is not just passionate about its mission, it’s relevant, and it’s on target.”

Culwell was among many of the powerful voices that took part in the 13th Annual Banquet for Life. Culwell is an abortion survivor and a national pro-life speaker. 

“Most of us in this room and most of us across this country have been affected by abortion in some way whether we know it or not; one in three women in our country will have an abortion in their lifetime,” Culwell said. “It's our honor and our responsibility to defend life, to protect life.”

Culwell said that carrying out her mission has involved testifying in front of Congress, speaking in front of hundreds of thousands of people, and feeling uncomfortable — because to make the impossible possible is to step out of one’s comfort zone to make a change.

“It’s uncomfortable, I’ve been rejected, people don’t want to see my face, people don’t want to acknowledge my existence, nothing about this has been comfortable for me, but that’s okay because that means I’m doing something right,” Culwell said. “So I am going to ask you to step out of your comfort zone with me, there are so many ways we can make the impossible, possible for women and families across this country, and even right here in your city, in your state.”

Culwell continued: “I imagine what it would be like for my birth mother if there was a place like your pregnancy center. If there had been a place like your pregnancy center in her time of need, she told me that she would have made a different choice. She wishes she made a different choice. And maybe my twin would be standing here next to me.

“There is no way even to comprehend the magnitude of what you all can accomplish here tonight. You all are going to encourage and save the lives of people just like you.

 “I want to encourage you to step out of your comfort zone. Because I can imagine a life without my twin, I live that every day, and I would never want anyone else to imagine that, to imagine a life where you are missing someone that mattered, that God created with a purpose and a plan.

“Every dime that is raised tonight goes directly to helping women discover how precious life is. We are winning this fight, and some things are going to happen in the weeks to come that are going to shake things up, and I am excited about it.

“Pray for your pregnancy center because your doors are going to be flooding and they are going to choose life.”

Special arrangements have been by the Pregnancy Resource Center for the showing of the movie “Unplanned” in Rolla this week. The film is based on another one of the strong women, who shared her resilience with the community and continues to support the mission of Rolla's Pregnancy Resource Center — Abby Johnson. 

Johnson is friends with Culwell and has shared Culwell's emotional story, where Culwell’s birth mother was 13 years old at the time she became pregnant with Culwell. In 1988 her 13-year-old birth mother had a surgical abortion. “After thinking she had ‘fixed the problem,’ a few weeks later she realized her belly was still growing,” Culwell said.

Culwell’s mother was taken back to the abortion clinic where she learned that she had been pregnant with twins, one was aborted; one survived — Culwell.

Culwell was born 2.5 months premature with complications including dislocated hips, club feet, and was on life support in the hospital. Culwell went through multiple casts on her feet, a harness on her hips to prepare for surgery and body casts in order to correct what the abortion had done to Culwell’s body after her 13-year-old birth mother underwent an abortion 20-weeks into her pregnancy. 

"Unplanned" is playing at Regal Cinemas Forum 5 in Rolla throughout this week at 101 E. 18th St., Rolla, MO 65401.

Showtimes are:

Monday, April 1:

—3:45 p.m.

—6:45 p.m.

Tuesday, April 2:

—3:45 p.m.

—6:45 p.m.

Wednesday, April 3:

—3:45 p.m.

—6:45 p.m.

Thursday, April 4:

—3:45 p.m.

—6:45 p.m.