CFL's winningest coach initially hesitant to speak at the event but felt God's call to do so after reflecting
By Nathan Rumohr
Five-time Grey Cup Champion and B.C. Lions General Manager Wally Buono is known more for his legendary football coaching career than for advocating pro-life causes.
The CFL's winningest coach was initially hesitant to give the keynote address at a luncheon hosted by the Christian Advocacy Society and The Canadian Association of Pregnancy Support Services. The "Faith, Family, and Football" luncheon was held Sept. 24 at the Holiday Inn in Vancouver.
However Buono realized "My biggest motive is to look at something like this, and say, 'If you don't stand up for them, who will? If you don't support them, who will?'"
Buono told Brian Norton, the executive director of the advocacy society, he wasn't a preacher and he didn't feel a lunch about "women's issues" was his place to speak. But he agreed, after reflecting on his invitation, recalling the struggles of two important women in his life.
He first recalled the struggles of his mother, a single parent and a poor Italian immigrant who didn't know English or French. Buono said he didn't realize it at the time, but now he knows that her life was very difficult.
"She really had no hope; there was no one there who could give her some help," Buono said. He said his mother struggled to put food on the table and had to deal with the state taking Buono and his brother away for three and a half years.
He said the situation must have been traumatic for her.
Buono also talked about his oldest daughter and her troubled pregnancy.
"When she was pregnant she went for a check-up and was spotting a little bit and the doctor said she had miscarried," Buono said.
His wife Sande couldn't accept that, and went to Edmonton to be with their daughter and took her to emergency, where the doctors said their daughter was fine.
"The fact is because she had support we have a beautiful grandson," Buono said.
Norton said the luncheon was a new fundraiser initiative for the Christian Advocacy Society and The Canadian Association of Pregnancy Support Services. The event was held during the lunch hour in Vancouver to draw in a dense urban population during the workday.
He said the organization also wanted to expand their base of supporters, and hoped a keynote address for the CFL legend would help draw men. He added that it was also encouraging to have someone of the stature of Buono speak at an event that focuses on pro-life issues. Norton said pro-life causes aren't often championed by public figures.
"We are, in the world's eyes, a devalued ministry serving the devalued," Norton said, adding that it was good to have a notable name show support for the pro-life cause.