||Curtis Frame, keynote speaker for the Celebration of Life in Madison, holds up the banner that helped him and his then-fiancée (now wife) choose to keep their unborn baby. (Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)
MADISON -- If there were one word to describe the recent "Celebration of Life" event at the Alliant Energy Center, it would be "thanks."
The evening had a mood of gratitude from both those who put on the benefit dinner and those who attended.
The event was an opportunity for Our Lady of Hope Clinic and the Women’s Care Center of Madison (WCC) to show how they have worked to build a "Culture of Life" in Dane County.
Our Lady of Hope Clinic, which is celebrating its fifth anniversary this spring, is Dane County's only pro-life primary care clinic. The clinic also provides free primary medical care to the uninsured.
The Women's Care Center counsels women about unexpected pregnancies and provides free ultrasounds for potentially pregnant women. The center also provides pregnant women with prenatal counseling and resources.
Blessing and speakers
Fr. Eric Nielsen, pastor of St. Paul University Catholic Center and also a member of the board of Our Lady of Hope Clinic, led everyone in prayer before the dinner.
"Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of life you've given all of us," he began. "But also the gift of the Holy Spirit in our hearts that helps us cherish life. We know that you will help us win this battle, because it has already been won through Jesus Christ."
The evening's main program got underway with a talk by Sarah Martin, director of the Women's Care Center.
Martin said she was "grateful" to everyone who attended and wanted to share the "great victories of life that are being won" through the Women's Care Center.
She said within the last two years since the center opened, WCC has "touched the lives of nearly 1,000 women in the greater Madison area," which was met with applause.
"Every day, young women face unplanned pregnancies and circumstances that to them seem impossible," Martin added. "Women's Care Center stands as a beacon of hope to these women who are able then to make courageous decisions for life, and we are able to make those decisions because we are there to support them."
The next speaker was Dr. Michael Kloess, Our Lady of Hope Clinic's attending physician and the medical director for the Women's Care Center.
Dr. Kloess also thanked everyone for being there and the "dedication to life" that they have shown.
"Being pro-life isn't just about what you don't do, it’s about what you do do," he said. "As a clinic, what we do is we respect the dignity of each person. We respect them from the beginning of life to the end.
"We provide care that's consistent with the teachings of the Church, but we [also] provide care for the individual."
Dr. Kloess thanked dozens of individuals who help make the clinic a success both inside and outside of its wall.
A ‘powerful story’
The keynote speaker of the event was Curtis Frame.
Frame said it was an "honor" to share his "powerful story" of choosing life.
He told attendees how a year-and-a-half ago, his fiancée told him she was pregnant. His initial reaction to her was "escape from the reality of the situation" and he told her it was "her body" and he would support whatever decision she made.
Two weeks later, she made an appointment at Planned Parenthood in Appleton. As he waited in the car, while she was inside for her initial appointment, Frame said he began to panic.
He looked up contact information for numerous dioceses and called the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. He asked to speak to a priest. A priest answered, and Frame explained the situation to him. The priest advised him to call the Women's Care Center in Madison.
"It was the best decision he made for us," said Frame, who was in Appleton at the time, talking to a priest in Milwaukee, who recommended a facility in Madison.
"I had my tail between my legs. I'm sitting near the most intrinsically evil place in the world, and I didn't know how to get myself out of that situation," he said.
After talking with someone at the WCC, he was told to contact Dr. Kloess at Our Lady of Hope Clinic. Frame said talking with Dr. Kloess helped him find some comfort in the situation.
The next day, as they were heading back to Planned Parenthood, Frame told his fiancée to call the Women’s Care Center. He also called Dr. Kloess at the same time. Dr. Kloess later talked to Frame’s fiancée as they were circling Planned Parenthood, nearing the time of the appointment.
As they were turning a corner again, nearing the facility, they saw a large sign that said "Cherish Life," and as Frame put it, "It was over then." The couple did not go to Planned Parenthood, and they have a healthy child today.
Frame emotionally thanked Dr. Kloess and everyone at the Women's Care Center for their support during the pregnancy.
After Frame’s talk, emcee and pro-life speaker Steve Karlen gave some encouraging news on the pro-life efforts in the Madison area since the WCC opened in 2012 and Our Lady of Hope Clinic opened in 2009.
Karlen said, "We have seen the abortion rate in this community utterly collapse. It's gone into a total free-fall. Here in Dane County, we have seen the abortion rate decrease by 25 percent."
Karlen added numbers don’t tell the whole story. He encouraged everyone to get a look at the real results, to look at Curtis and his "beautiful family."
"That is what Our Lady of Hope Clinic and Women's Care Center mean to this community," he said.
For more information about Our Lady of Hope Clinic, visit www.OurLadyOfHopeClinic.org For more information about Women's Care Center, visit www.WomensCareCenter.org