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Walk for Life returns to park

PARKERSBURG — The Women’s Care Center marked 30 years of providing education and care to women facing unexpected pregnancies Sunday with the return of one of its biggest fundraisers.

“It’s been all about giving hope to women who find it difficult to choose life and … sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Janet Kimes, executive director of the center, said before the start of the 2021 Walk for Life Sunday in City Park. “If you want to tell someone what we’re all about, it’s those two things right there.”

The Women’s Care Center offers pregnancy testing, limited obstetric ultrasounds, education and assistance after children are born, along with sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment through free and confidential service. They also provide sexual risk avoidance programs for sixth-through-10th-graders in local schools. The center does not refer for or perform abortions.

To pay for those services, the center holds three major fundraisers a year. The COVID-19 pandemic caused the 2020 Walk for Life to be canceled, but Kimes said a virtual banquet held later in the year helped make up for some of the loss.

“The Lord really blessed the banquet. We raised over our goal,” she said.

Balloons are handed out prior to the start of the 25th annual Walk for Life at Parkersburg City Park Sunday.

They came close to their goal of $95,000 at Sunday’s walk. Melissa Elam, director of development for the center, said the tally was $94,336 as of Sunday afternoon “and we always have additional pledges that come in.”

More than 200 people participated in the walk, collecting pledges of support. Elam said the expenses of the event are underwritten by businesses so 100 percent of the proceeds go into the ministry expenses of the Women’s Care Center, which has three paid and two volunteer nurses.

Belpre resident Brooke Daniell participated in the walk for the fourth time.

“We just feel like the Women’s Care Center has really great services for the community and is important,” she said.

Kimes said the goal of the center is to love and help the women they serve.

Photos by Evan Bevins Participants release balloons to mark the start of the 2021 Walk for Life to support the Women’s Care Center Sunday at Parkersburg City Park. The blue balloons represented boys, the pink girls and the white those that were aborted.

“We want to be there, whatever challenges they’re facing,” she said.

Kimes said she recently spoke to a woman who found out she was pregnant after being sexually assaulted.

“And yet she decided to carry the baby to term and give life,” she said.

Little Hocking resident Sally Collins and her husband have contributed to the center for 20 years, and Collins volunteered there. She said everyone who comes into the center leaves knowing they are loved by God.

“You’re saving lives — unborn lives, born lives, spiritual lives, emotional lives,” she said.

Participants in the 25th annual Walk for Life step onto the track at City Park in Parkersburg Sunday afternoon. The Women’s Care Center fundraiser had nearly met its $95,000 goal by Sunday afternoon.

Bible Baptist Church Pastor Dan Stevens, the chairman of the center’s board, thanked those in attendance for supporting the center, which he said fulfills the biblical mandate of Proverbs 31:8 to “speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves.”

“You do not realize how much of a difference is being made every single week at the Women’s Care Center,” he said.

Evan Bevins can be reached at ebevins@newsandsentinel.com.

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