Julie and I had the opportunity to attend the Nebraska Family Alliance’s annual gala in Omaha this past Thursday night. I was honored to receive the “Life and Liberty” award, along with several of my colleagues who voted to support stronger abortion restrictions last session.

The other award winner was Dr. Tom Osborne, who received the first “Lifetime Legacy Award.”

As always, Dr. Osborne was witty and drove home a very important message. He shared with the crowd that he began his college coaching in 1962. He said that at the time, most of the athletes he recruited came from traditional nuclear families with both parents living in the same home; however, over the years, that all changed. As the years passed, it became clear that the family unit was breaking down.

In his final years of coaching, he found it rare that players were coming from a traditional family. In fact, in some cases, he had to travel to another town to meet with one of the parents.

Dr. Osborne started the “Teammates” organization to try to help young people who didn’t have a stable home environment to help them have a better chance at success in life. The organization started small but has since had a huge impact on youth throughout the Midwest. The results have been amazing when you look at the college graduation rate of the mentees over the years. Young people need a stable force in their lives who can help them deal with the challenges they face as adolescents.

It is clear to me that today’s youth are faced with more challenges than ever before. With the decline of the family unit and the decline in those regularly attending church, a greater number of people have lost their perspective on the sanctity of life.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Ben Carson. Dr. Carson gave an amazing presentation and is every bit the person I imagined him to be.

He shared how he grew up as someone who believed in a woman’s right to choose if she wanted to carry a baby to full term. His perspective changed after performing one of the first in vitro surgeries to save the life of twins. One of the twins had developed encephalitis at a time when the twins were not far along enough to be safely delivered. Dr. Carson performed an experimental surgery that saved both twins’ lives.

Years later, a young woman approached him to confirm that he was indeed the same Dr. Carson who performed the surgery on her mother that saved her life. It was at that point in time that he realized that all lives are worth saving, including preborn babies. I could not help but identify with his personal experience of having one moment that forever impacted his beliefs. He has been a strong pro-life advocate from that time forward.

Some have asked me if bills like LB 574 were more important than spending time lowering our taxes, reducing regulations, or creating new opportunities for my constituents. I answer by saying that my core values cannot be turned off when I do the work of representing the residents of District 42. In the end, you need to look yourself in the mirror every day and know that what you are doing is making a positive difference. Dr. Osborne and Dr. Carson reminded me of that on Thursday night.

Last week, the Nebraska 4-H Foundation voted to turn over all $2 million of the net insurance proceeds from the camp facility that burned near Halsey last fall. I could not be more pleased with their decision and for their support of the project moving forward.

As was discussed in the media, the goal is not just to replace the 4-H camp but to bring a much-expanded concept that can serve a broader purpose and have the staying power to support itself. This is an ambitious endeavor that will be built in phases. Once the feasibility study is complete, we will launch an aggressive fundraising campaign through the Nebraska Community Foundation.

Thank you to Jeff Yost and his staff with the Community Foundation for their leadership in helping to organize this process and keep the project moving forward. I am also grateful to all the local residents who showed up for the hearings and who are committing their time and effort to assist with this project. I remain committed to achieving economic growth that will serve to improve the lives of those in all parts of District 42.

Please feel free to reach out to me directly at mjacobson@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2729. My door is always open.

Mike Jacobson represents Lincoln, Logan, McPherson, Thomas, Hooker and the majority of Perkins counties – Dist. 42 — in the Nebraska legislature.

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