A joyful community gathered Jan. 19 to watch Father Joseph Oji bless and dedicate a new 4D ultrasound machine for Birthchoice, a Raleigh ministry that serves women in crisis pregnancy.
The machine was a gift from the Knights of Columbus council at St. Bernadette Parish in Fuquay-Varina.
It all started a year ago when Chris Craney learned about the ultrasound initiative that the national Knights of Columbus sponsor. (As the largest pro-life men’s organization in the country, the Knights have funded or helped facilitate the donation of more than 500 ultrasound machines nationally.)
Local councils—such as the one at St. Bernadette Parish—apply to become part of the program and commit to raise at least half of the funds for a machine, which can retail for close to $75,000. Once goals are approved and the site to receive the machine is chosen, the real work begins.
The local Knights—led by Mr. Craney, who chaired the project—held eight fundraisers, including a pancake breakfast and a baby bottle campaign. A dog raffle raised more than $500. Through these efforts and various donations, the local council raised more than $22,000.
The national Knights of Columbus organization matched those funds and negotiated a reduced price with the ultrasound vendor to allow for the gift.
Birthchoice medical director and OB-GYN, Dr. Duke Holt, said that the gift will make a tremendous difference in their center.
“With the old machine, you could only see a little bit of the pelvis, [and] you had to search around to find the baby,” he said. “With this machine, you see the whole pelvis immediately. It is more comfortable, less time consuming and less stressful for the mother. We won’t have to search for the heartbeat. It will be right there.”
Boyce Williams, State Culture of Life director for the Knights of Columbus, said the fact that this machine might help save one life is more than enough.
Representatives of the Knights of Columbus from both the state and local levels were in attendance to watch the blessing and celebrate the culmination of a year of hard work.
“It feels like a miracle has happened,” Sonny Butler, past grand chair of the Fuquay-Varina Knights and co-chair of the ultrasound committee, said.
Mr. Craney added the machine is just a tool for the volunteers and professionals who dedicate themselves to the Birthchoice mission. He noted, “We just feel blessed to be a part of helping this facility do what it already does so well, which is save babies. We’re just happy to be a part of that.”
Birthchoice director, Mona Saul, was all smiles as she thanked guests for the gift. “It’s just a special place,” she said. “Our new ultrasound machine, which includes a digital format and the ability to interface with client software in a more efficient way, will help us reach our goals, which all surround supporting these women in crisis.”
Birthchoice board member, Tim Thelen said, “We really want to thank the Knights of Columbus. We know they dug deep for this gift for us and worked hard with fundraising. That kind of support is tremendous and we thank them so much.”
Mr. Craney and Mr. Butler acknowledged that the year was filled with hard work but said they hope to do it again and challenge other Knights councils to do the same.
“If we can take a council of 240 Catholic gentlemen and raise the money needed, we hope that we can inspire other councils to take it on, too. Let’s get as many machines in the hands of people who need it as possible,” says Mr. Butler.
Photos by Mandy Howard and Phil Roche