WARSAW — Hundreds gathered for Heartline Pregnancy Center’s sold-out Gathering of Hope event Thursday evening, April 28.
This year’s speaker was actress Shari Rigby, known for her role in “October Baby.” Rigby spoke about her personal experiences and how she found redemption in the midst of her worst struggles.
When Rigby was 13, her family moved from a quiet North Dakota town to Phoenix, Ariz. Adjusting to big-city life was difficult and Rigby found herself hanging with the wrong crowds. By age 14, she was in an abusive relationship.
Outwardly, Rigby was a straight-A student with scholarships and a future. When she became a married, pregnant teen, all of that ended. Stripped of her scholarships, Rigby finished her education at a high school for pregnant teens. Her son was 5 months old when she carried him down the aisle to claim her diploma.
The abuse continued and soon she, like her husband, was using drugs. One night, after a 24-hour drug binge, Rigby cried out in prayer and decided to turn her life around. She went to college and was soon working as a paralegal in a major law firm.
Then, she became pregnant again. This time, her boyfriend whisked her away to have an abortion. It happened fast, she said, and no one explained the procedure to her.
“They gave me a pill and I fell asleep,” she said. “When I woke up, they told me it was all over and I could go home.”
Once home, she recalled, her boyfriend went inside, ordered pizza and turned on the TV as if nothing had happened.
Rigby later met Matthew, whom she married. She became active in church and had her second son. She was devastated to learn she could not have any more babies.
Rigby’s acting career took off. After complications from a major surgery temporarily halted her career — and almost ended her life — she felt called to Hollywood, where she continued making movies like “October Baby.”
Since “October Baby,” Rigby has heard testimonies from women who have had abortions and from grown women whose mothers were told to abort them but did not.
Besides Rigby’s story, attendees heard testimonies from three couples who, on discovering they were pregnant, turned to Heartline for help.
Joshua Bailey was named board member of the year and Aaron Hoak was named volunteer of the year for his work in Heartline’s father program.
Also speaking were state senators Liz Brown and Jim Banks, who both expressed their support for Heartline and its services.
Parents Mylisha and John Bennett spoke about the help they received through Heartline when they discovered Mylisha was expecting. Through Heartline, they received parenting training and coupons for items they needed through the BABE store, including a crib, diapers, soap, lotion and a pack-and-play. Their son was born Oct. 9.
“He really is our miracle baby,” Mylisha said as her young son attempted to eat the microphone.
Through video feed, emcee John Bryan Lowe took attendees on a tour of the mobile ultrasound unit, parked outside. A nurse aboard the unit performed a live ultrasound, complete with a heartbeat.