I said I would raise $4,000 in four days, but little did I know that I would do so in about 20 hours.
I’m president of Texas Students for Life (TSFL), the Pro-Life student organization at the University of Texas in Austin. Last year, we set out to offer, for the first time on our campus, a scholarship for pregnant or parenting students. We fundraised and succeeded in raising enough money to give one $1,000 scholarship. The biggest challenge we faced was raising enough awareness for the scholarship so that qualified students could find us and apply. There were not many applicants last year, but we did find one deserving couple who was able to use the money to pursue their education and continue to be good parents to their baby boy.
This year, we expected the process to be similar. We fundraised all year and had the funds to award one $1,000 scholarship again, assuming we would have similar trouble in finding qualified applicants. To my surprise, we received not one, but five excellent applicants! We conducted interviews, attempting to narrow down the applicant pool and find the single applicant who could best use the money to better her life and the life of her child. On Tuesday, April 24, after interviewing our second candidate, I realized that we would need to turn away four of these wonderful young women. I had just looked someone in the face, empathizing with all the painful details of her brave story, with the knowledge that I would have to say no to her or four people just like her. Tuesday morning, I was proud of my organization and excited to be able to offer a scholarship to someone who would use the money responsibly, but by Tuesday evening, I was heartbroken. I could not imagine feeling any joy in awarding our $1,000 scholarship because I knew how much all five ladies deserved the money. Other members of my organization gently told me that I would just have to accept the circumstance and focus on the good we were doing for one family. However, I refused to accept that. I refused to compromise, and without stopping to consider whether my plan was possible, I announced that I would raise an additional $4,000 in the next four days so that we could give $1,000 to all five ladies.
My organization is non-sectarian, so when I speak on behalf of the organization, I’m careful never to endorse any political ideology or religious position. Personally, my Catholic faith plays a huge role in my life. Just the other day in adoration, I had spent time meditating on Mark 11:24, “all things, whatsoever you ask when you pray, believe that you have already received them, and they shall come unto you.” With this verse and the extreme confidence of believing that I had already received the $4,000 we needed, I plunged into the most ambitious fundraising campaign I’ve ever seen. I wrote a Facebook post, which has now been shared more than a dozen times, and urged my friends and fellow members of TSFL to pick up the phone and start asking everyone they knew for donations of any amount. By the time I went to sleep on Tuesday night, we had pledges and donations totaling $2,994. The next day, donations of all sizes continued to pour in. As of 4:30 PM Wednesday, April 25, we had reached our $4,000 goal. I am awed by the generosity I’ve seen so many people show through their gifts and their kind messages. I wish I could personally thank each and every one of them, but there are too many spread too far around the globe (we had one donation from the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota and another from someone in Croatia!). I’m stunned and edified by the love people have shown for these five young women. Donors everywhere have been moved to give to people they will certainly never even meet! This love at the heart of the Pro-Life movement is what inspires me to lead my organization and to move into even bigger and greater things in the Pro-Life and nonprofit world after I graduate next May.
Even now, we are continuing to receive donations. My heart is so full, picturing all the good this additional money will do as Texas Students for Life continues to grow our Pregnant or Parenting initiative. Imagine how many lives we can touch and how many young women will know that the Pro-Life community cares about them and their children! I hope to see enough generosity to fund five more scholarships next year, and, in fact, I am confident that through the grace of God, this will happen.
Click here if you feel called to assist Texas Students for Life’s efforts.