Celebrating life, from left: Ann Scheidler, Jack Willke, Joe Scheidler, Barbara Willke, Joe Brinck and Cindy Brinck
The Life Issues Institute, founded by Dr. Jack Willke and Bradley Mattis, hosted a gala Celebration of Life in honor of Dr. Willke’s 80th birthday. The gathering of over five hundred at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Cincinnati, OH on April 5 was both a stupendous birthday party and a dynamic fundraising event.
A veritable Who’s Who in Pro-Life came together in Cincinnati to give their best wishes to a great leader in the movement. Dr. Willke and his wife Barbara are pioneers in the life education effort. They introduced slides featuring the stages of fetal development in the late 1960s, shortly after the technology for intrauterine photography made those photos available. The Willkes have always believed in the value of the picture of the unborn baby and of the aborted baby to leave an impression on the viewer and help change the culture.
“I used Jack Willke’s slide presentation for years,” said Joe Scheidler. “Jack and I know that a picture is worth ten thousand words.”
Each table at the Celebration of Life was decorated with an entire birthday cake, which was later cut and served. Master of Ceremonies Ken Blackwell introduced the features of the evening and shared recollections of his friendship with Dr. Willke.
Steve Forbes, editor of Forbes magazine and former U.S. Presidential candidate, was the keynote speaker. As he took the podium he joked that he appreciated the free meal he was treated to, especially in the wake of his “mid-life attempted career change.” Forbes spoke of the importance of educating Americans on the value of life and urged the guests to contribute generously to the work of Life Issues Institute.
As a surprise to Jack and Barbara, the marching band from Jack’s high school alma mater, Roger Bacon High School, marched into the banquet hall playing the school fight song, then led the crowd in a rendition of “Happy Birthday.”