In view of the flood of bad news, some disturbingly so, in our community and in the nation at large, it was good to see more than 500 people attending a banquet for a good cause right here in Seguin. The occasion was the 19th annual fundraising banquet of the South Texas Pregnancy Care Center (STPCC) at the Seguin Coliseum last Thursday evening. Attendees came from across Guadalupe County and neighboring communities and included elected leaders, pastors, priests and the rest of us.

Janice Weaver, the center’s executive director, began the banquet with an announcement that the loan on the center’s facility at 975 W. Court has been completely paid. There followed a ceremonial burning of the note by Mindy Johnson, president of the STPCC’s Board of Directors, and David Sowell, the board’s treasurer.

Weaver then summarized some of the center’s achievements over the past year, which included servicing 1,332 clients and performing 302 pregnancy tests and 149 ultrasounds, all at no cost. Weaver also described the center’s role in teaching age-appropriate sex education courses at schools in several neighboring cities.

At each year’s banquet, the STPCC presents a nationally known speaker, and this year’s personality was Daniel Ritchie. He’s why I’m writing this column, for Ritchie is a best-selling writer and speaker who almost didn’t survive his birth. His is a story worth telling.

Ritchie began by explaining how his parents had carefully prepared for his arrival. But they, the attending physician and the nurses were speechless when he was born without arms and was not breathing. The doctor told his parents he was not worth saving but would try to resuscitate him if they wished. They immediately said yes, and the result was an active, healthy boy who attended public schools like everyone else and graduated from high school with honors.

Ritchie explained how his parents didn’t spoil him. They knew he would never have arms, so they insisted that he learn to make do with his legs and feet. That includes everything from eating and grocery shopping to signing his name and driving a car and a tractor while using his feet for his hands. He told us his father said he didn’t want his unarmed son to be unarmed, so he taught him to shoot. All this explains why he was barefoot during his talk, for his feet double as his hands.

Ritchie is a strong Christian with a wife and two children. He’s an unabashedly pro-life advocate, for he knows that his parents could easily have asked the doctor to not resuscitate him. He’s deeply concerned about the millions of unborn babies with Down syndrome who are aborted each year, especially in the US and Western Europe.    

I’ve always been inspired by blind people, for I saw how actively my great-grandfather pursued life after he lost both eyes and was nearly killed by a black powder blast while building a railroad bed south of Sweetwater in 1906. I’ve also been inspired by a friend who lost the use of his legs in a serious bicycle accident. But until Thursday night I never met a man without arms. People like Daniel Ritchie are worth thinking about when we experience the occasional down sides of everyday life. 

Our community has serious problems; so do most communities. But Daniel Ritchie brings good news, for he said it is rare to see a crowd as large as Thursday’s in a community the size of ours. You can learn much more about the STPCC at www.southtexaspregnancycarecenter.com/

Forrest M. Mims III is a former regular columnist for The Seguin Gazette.

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