Joe enjoys the tribute dinner in his honor, April 2 [Photo by Sam Scheidler]
On April 2, a packed house of over four hundred pro-life notables gave Joe Scheidler a huge standing ovation at a gala celebration paying tribute to Joe for his thirty-eight years of pro-life work. But it also served as a kind of “class reunion” for pro-life activists all over the U.S.
Monica Miller, executive director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, and a long-time friend of the Scheidlers, did a fantastic job of bringing pro-life friends and family together at the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza in downtown Chicago. Monica also served as emcee for the evening.
Months before the event Jack Ames, Troy Newman and Jerry Horn had come up with the idea of honoring Joe with a special evening. Monica took the reins and got to work. “Joe has had an enormous influence in my life,” she said. “I am the pro-life leader I am today because of everything Joe taught me when I was still in my twenties and a student at Loyola University. I just knew I had to make this great idea happen. It turned out to be a wonderful and beautiful event.”
Crusaders Roll out the Red Carpet
As Joe arrived at the Holiday Inn he was greeted by a cheering group of more than fifty teens from Crusaders for Life, who literally rolled out the red carpet for him amid dozens of yellow “LIFE” balloons. They clamored for autographs and shouted out, “Joe! Joe!”
Joe greeted the “flash mob” and gave them a brief talk on how they would be taking over the movement to bring America back to life. Across the street from the Crusaders Joe was greeted by the other side of the battle over human life: a group of pro-abortion activists headed by the Illinois Choice Action Team.
Joe took his Stop Abortion Now sign down to the corner of Orleans and Mart Center Drive to confront the opposition as they shouted, “Racist, sexist, anti-gay! Joe Scheidler, go away!” That, along with Crusaders’ cheering and waving their yellow balloons, enraged the “Choice” crowd, whose chants grew increasingly vulgar. Finally a hotel security guard cautioned the pro-abortion group to “knock it off.” They ignored him, but Joe had a party to go to, so he bid them a fond farewell and joined his four hundred friends inside.
Each of the dozens of sponsors of the Scheidler tribute gave a brief remembrance of a “Joe Scheidler” moment or story, many of them remarking that Joe always called them “Young John” or “Young Doug” until it became clear that Joe called nearly everyone “Young”—except Jim Sedlak, whom he called, “Big Jim.”
Many of the twenty-five official speakers said things like “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Joe Scheidler.” But when Eric Scheidler took his turn at the podium, he quipped, “I think I am truly the only one up here who can say I would not be here today if it were not for Joe Scheidler.”
The pro-life notables on the dais who gave testimonials were Jack Ames, Patricia Bainbridge, Bill Beckman, Tom Brejcha, Tom Ciesielka, Jenn Giroux, Mary Anne Hackett, Peggy Hamill, Jerry Horn, John Jakubczyk, Al Kresta, Mary Maschmeier, Monica Miller, Lynn Mills, Janet Morana, Troy Newman, Bro. Paul O’Donnell, Ralph Rivera, Doug Scott, Eric Scheidler, Jim Sedlak and Chris Slattery. They each brought humor, nostalgia and poignant memories to the occasion.
The official program ended with a moving, five-minute video that provided a visual summary of Joe Scheidler’s work and accomplishments.
Tires Slashed, Pro-Lifers Unfazed
But the evening was not yet over for some guests, who found their tires slashed when they returned to their cars in the parking lot. Every car hit had pro-life bumper stickers—clearly the work of pro-abortion radicals. That evening, someone bragged about the tire slashing on a pro-abortion website.
Pro-lifers Larry and Karen Johnson refused to let the slashing of their tires spoil their evening: they responded by making a special donation to the League. The attack was a poignant reminder of why the movement needs fearless heroes like Joe Scheidler.
The Joe Scheidler tribute video can be seen here.