GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - An annual luncheon to celebrate the life and legacy of Betty Ford brought to Grand Rapids two other women who have some experience in the White House.
Betty Ford left a mark on the world as first lady back in 1974. During her years in the White House, and for years after, Ford dedicated her life to raising awareness about breast cancer and equal rights for women.
"She wasn't really called to be a political person, but she had her opinions and she had strong views on how women needed to be recognized and treated fairly," said Michael Ford, Gerald and Betty Ford's son.
Now after her death, her daughter, Susan Ford Bales honors that with the "America's First Ladies" luncheon. It’s an annual event, but this year is extra special. Betty Ford would have turned 100 this year.
" I think it's a great honor to have this many show up for for the luncheon. I mean we always have a pretty good chance of selling it out pretty quickly because we get so many hot speakers in the last couple of years. So I'm just really proud that Grand Rapids is getting the chance to have people of this distinguished guests here," said Susan Ford Bales.
For Mrs. Ford's 100th birthday, this year's distinguished guests included Former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Lyndon B. Johnson's daughter, Lynda Johnson Robb. Both women say they've learned a lot from Betty Ford and continue to uphold her legacy in their own ways.
"I think the First Ladies have an opportunity to educate the population about a lot of very important issues. I'm not quite on that level of the First Lady of the United States, but Betty Ford was, and she made us aware of many issues," said Robb.
Ford Bales says her mother was more than a First Lady, she was a crusader for change.
"The role of the First Lady is very important and it's a lot more important that I think people give it credit for," said Ford Bales.
"We're coming home and kind of raising our hearts and our best wishes to my mother and we feel like in many ways her spirit is alive and strong today in this event and in the city and certainly in our family," Michael said.