Pam Tebow, mother of professional football player Tim Tebow, will speak Thursday at the Lifeline Family Center's 16th Annual Benefit Dinner.
The event is from 6:30 p.m. -8:45 p.m. in the Hope Building at McGregor Baptist Church, at 3750 Colonial Blvd. in Fort Myers. Doors open at 5:45 p.m.
"We're just extremely excited to have Pam come," Jenna Steffel, the assistant director for the Lifeline Family Center, said Thursday.
The evening will kick off with a dinner of pecan chicken, with Key West vegetable medley, roasted potatoes, salad, bread and tiramisu. Kathy Miller, the founder and president of the Lifeline Learning Center, then speaks.
Miller will provide an overview of the organization and its mission.
The Lifeline Family Center is a residence and learning facility for pregnant teens and women between the ages of 16 and 22. The program includes pre-natal and parenting classes, GED preparation, career training and spiritual guidance.
"Then, Pam Tebow will give a talk," Steffel said.
She explained that when Tebow was pregnant with her son, Tim, she was encouraged by medical staff to have an abortion, but decided not to.
"She went against all their recommendations and decided to continue with the pregnancy," Steffel said. "She talks about the importance of life."
The third and final speaker is one of the mothers in the program.
"She's been in the program for eight and a half months," she said, adding that the speaker's child is now 4 months old.
Founded in February 1996, Lifeline has had 152 women participate in its program. The facility can accommodate up to 12 mothers and 24 babies, and it has a nursery, learning center with distance learning, chapel and more.
According to Steffel, the mother volunteered to speak at the event.
"It's had such an amazing impact that she wanted to tell her story," she said. "It's just a real realistic view of what happens here at Lifeline."
The center announced during last year's benefit dinner that Tebow would be a speaker at the 2013 event. It is a paid speaking engagement at $7,000.
"We just know her stand on pro-life, and so we contacted her agent and lined it up for her to come here," Steffel said.
The Lifeline Family Center is testing out a new format, where it hosts the dinner in the spring with the pro-life focus, then puts together a walk in the fall with the focus on the mothers and babies participating in the program.
"We're trying to reach out into the community and make other people aware of Lifeline, and bringing in a speaker will do that," she said.
The event also serves as a fund-raiser. Last year, approximately 200 people attended the benefit dinner and about $85,000 was raised as a result.
"It goes toward operating and maintaining - upkeep - of the center and taking care of the mothers and babies," Steffel said.
It costs just more than $12,000 annually per mother and child.
"We're hoping to raise more," she said of this year's fund-raising goal.
The center also will ask for faith promises during the event.
Steffel explained that a faith promise is what someone would like to contribute throughout the year, such as $25 or $100 per month.
"In support of us," she said.
The deadline to reserve tickets to the benefit dinner is end of day Monday. Individual tickets cost $70 per person, or get a table of eight for $400.
As of Thursday, 520 tickets had been sold, with 65 still available.
For more information or to buy tickets, call (239) 242-7238.
Applicants to the Lifeline program must pass a drug test, have no active felony charges and can be no more than six months pregnant. Applicants can have a second child, but the first child must be 2 years of age or younger.
During the program, women take parenting and life skill classes, as well as "character" classes that deal with issues like honesty, integrity, anger and personal rights. The center also has a 12-step recovery program available.
At the learning center, participants are expected to start working toward their GED if they did not graduate. The women then must pick a career path and work toward it through distance learning online or by attending school.
Participants can earn Lifeline dollars, which are used to simulate a budget, including rent and utilities. To "graduate," participants must raise $3,000 in savings, obtain a full-time job in their career field and have a five-year plan.
About one in four participants "go the whole gamut" and graduate. About half of the women stay long enough to get their GED and decide on a career path, while the rest only get through the life skills and parenting classes.
To graduate, women also must select a church.
Lifeline Family Center is a non-profit and relies on donations.
Lifeline Family Center is at 907 S.E. Fifth Ave. For more information, call (239) 242-7238 or visit the Web site at: www.lifelinefamilycenter.org .