ODON — Another large crowd turned out for the annual Right to Life dinner at the Simon J. Graber Community Building Thursday.
The 36th annual banquet of the pro-life organization for Daviess, Martin and Pike counties saw the theme of second chances, both from the keynote speaker, Dr. Grant Clark, and this year's Community Service Award recipient, Pete Aldrich.
Clark, from Pennsylvania, was a doctor who performed abortions while practicing in California. Clark said he was "the murderer of hundreds of little babies."
"All those kids I killed, nothing I can do make it right," Clark said.
The doctor said abortions start with nothing but lies he was told by his patients and his colleagues while working in Eureka, Calif., in 1970. Clark said he was also influenced by Planned Parenthood.
"Once people begin to believe lies, trying to talk them into adoption was trying to talk to a brick wall," Clark said.
He noticed several changes to his patients, and himself, that caused him to change his mind about the practice. Two years later, he stopped performing abortions.
"Abortions are as hard to the lady having it as the persons around it," Clark said.
Clark then moved to Pennsylvania and became a country doctor, also worked in corrections. From then on, he worked to speak and end abortions nationwide.
This year's community service award winner was Pete Aldrich, founder of the Lighthouse Recovery Center, Victory Tabernacle church and Heaven's Kitchen soup kitchen. Aldrich, a former drug addict, created the Lighthouse as a center and has treated many addicts, both men and women.
Aldrich is also the pastor at Victory Tabernacle church on W. Walnut Street and the soon-to-be- opened Heaven's Kitchen at the church. Friend and co-worker Brad Rainey said he was "blessed to work with this man."
"Pete wasn't changed," Rainey said, "He was transformed."
Right to Life President Louis Kavanaugh Jr. said Aldrich was "a man well deserving."
"I think all of us has seen the product of his work and have seen many people he's brought back from the brink," Kavanaugh said.
As is the custom, local political leaders were at the banquet. State Reps. Mark Messmer, and Matt Uebelhor, and state Sen. John Waterman were in attendance. Also in attendance were candidates for state and county offices. A representative from Congressman Larry Bucshon, R-Evansville, was in attendance as the congressman was in session during the federal government shutdown.
"It is always encouraging to see everyone at the banquet," Kavanaugh said in his opening remarks.
This is the 36th year for the annual dinner. This year's cover child was Jenna Marie LeTourneau, daughter of Kelly and Traci LeTourneau. Jenna was adopted from a local birth mother by the family.