COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (Christian Examiner) – Las Vegas bookies are betting on 113 million people watching the Super Bowl this Sunday.
Advertisers are betting that the $4.5 million they are paying for each of the ad slots will generate mega-profits for them. Each of the ad slots is sold out, though the price this year was at a record high.
Focus on the Family made a bet five years ago that they could make an impact with a Super Bowl ad. The faith-based family values organization featured Tim Tebow and his mom Pam on what technically was an pro-life ad, though that word "abortion" was never spoken.
Only God knows the overall impact of the 2010 Focus commercial featuring the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner and his mom, but Avita Grace Wood is one life it changed.
She's 4 years old now, a bubbly bouncy cute-as-a-bug giggly girl child who loves frilly dresses, bows in her hair, her mom Susan Wood and everything they do together.
It is a happy ending to a story that does not have a happy beginning.
Susan Wood went to a friend's Super Bowl party distraught because when she told her boyfriend that morning she was pregnant, he told her—before walking out—that he did not want any more children and to get an abortion.
The Focus ad ran in the first quarter of Super Bowl XLIV.
"The room fell silent while the commercial played," according to an article by Thomas Jeffries for Thriving Family, a Focus on the Family publication. Not that anyone knew of Wood's distress, but "Instead of the strident anti-abortion ad Susan, her friends and most of America were expecting, they watched a mother's heartfelt story about the survival of her infant son."
Wood said she wanted to be critical of the ad, "But as we watched, everyone agreed that it was a positive commercial with an encouraging message, not one of judgment or condemnation."
As the game played on, and her friends laughed and ate and drank, Wood pondered her situation. At home, she found the Focus website; saw an indepth video of Bob and Ann Tebow's story of her difficult and dangerous pregnancy; watched the ad again on YouTube.com; and, eventually emailed Focus.
The response she soon received "was so nonjudgmental," Wood said in Jeffries' article. "She offered advice but didn't tell me I was wrong. I kept thinking about what she wrote, and the commercial, and what Tim's mom said in the interview, and it all just spoke to my heart.
"I made the decision to keep the baby."
Focus continued to connect with Wood, and even sent a gift for the baby.
"I think about the commercial, Tim Tebow and the people from Focus daily," Wood said. "I am so grateful. If there hadn't been a Super Bowl commercial, if I hadn't been at the party, if someone had responded to my email in a different way ...." Her voice trailed off. "I will never be able to express the gratitude and love that I feel."