October 23, 2020

RTLI 2020 award winners committed to building a culture of life

By Natalie Hoefer

Each year at its “Celebrate Life” fundraiser event, Right to Life of Indianapolis (RTLI) presents two awards—the Charles E. Stemming Pro-Life Award and the Respect for Life Award.

According to the event program, the annual Stemming award recognizes “a volunteer who has met the challenges presented in the pro-life movement, and who has seized opportunities to serve through leadership,” and the Respect for Life Award honors “outstanding persons or organizations in the community who have had a profound impact on the pro-life movement” who are “not afraid to embody pro-life values in the public arena.”

Facts about this year’s winners shared during the Celebrate Life event are highlighted below.

Charles E. Stemming Pro-Life Award winner Maria Hernandez-Cabrera

For more than a decade, Maria Hernandez-Cabrera has been volunteering for the pro-life cause in the Indianapolis area, particularly ministering to the Latino community.

Her volunteer service includes: RTLI in many capacities, including as a Spanish-speaking helper at the Latino Expo, National Catholic Youth Conference and the Indiana State Fair; Great Lakes Gabriel Project in numerous ways, including as its director of Spanish services; and Rachel’s Vineyard post-abortion healing retreats as a retreat facilitator.

Hernandez-Cabrera also co-founded the Teens for Life and Chastity Club at St. Patrick Parish in Indianapolis, and she and her husband Daniel have an active online pro-life ministry called “Daniel and Maria Online.”

She, Daniel and their five children—with a sixth child due in December—are members of St. Thomas More Parish in Mooresville. The couple also has three children who died before birth.

Respect for Life Award winner Monica Kelsey

Monica Kelsey was conceived in a brutal rape in 1972, her 17-year-old mother being left for dead. The young woman survived.

But Kelsey almost did not. Since abortion was illegal at the time, the young mother sought a back-alley abortion. Only when seeing the doctor face-to-face did she change her mind. She abandoned Monica at a hospital just hours after giving birth.

Traveling years later in South Africa, Kelsey saw a church with a “baby box,” giving mothers unable to care for their infants a safe place to anonymously surrender them rather than choosing abortion.

As a former firefighter and medic, and knowing her own history, Kelsey was inspired to create something similar in the United States called “Safe Haven Baby Boxes.” According to the organization’s website, there are currently 41 baby boxes installed in fire stations and hospitals around Indiana, plus three in Ohio and one in Arkansas.

In addition to saving about 80 unborn babies, the organization has also referred more than 500 women to pregnancy care centers and assisted in six adoption referrals.

Kelsey travels the country sharing her story and educating people about Safe Haven Baby Boxes, with a goal of having at least one in every state and saving as many babies as possible from abortion.

(For pre-recorded interviews about each winner played during the virtual Celebrate Life event, watch the video at celebratelifedinner.com/2020, starting at 0:11:25.)


Related story: Speaker conceived in rape says ‘no child is unwanted’ at annual Right to Life dinner

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