AUBURN — Molly Anne Dutton is a bubbly, outgoing Auburn University student with a winning smile — just the type of young woman to win an election as Auburn University’s Miss Homecoming.
But if it hadn’t been for a decision made by her birth mother, she would not have seen Saturday’s ceremony at all.
Dutton, who graduated from Gardendale High School in 2010, was named Auburn’s 100th Miss Homecoming. She was presented a silver bowl by Gov. Robert Bentley and AU President Jay Gogue.
That scene was a far cry from how she came into the world 21 years ago.
Her biological mother became pregnant with Molly being sexually assaulted. The mother’s husband gave an ultimatum: abort the baby, or go through a divorce.
The mother took the latter course, and came to Alabama while pregnant. That’s where Peggy Dutton came in — she and her then-husband were on the board of directors for Lifeline Children’s Services, a Birmingham-based Christian adoption agency. Molly’s birth mother was put in touch with the agency, and the Duttons adopted the infant two days after birth.
Since then, her life has been pretty much like any other suburban kid, with four years at Gardendale High that included student council offices and the like. She then went to Auburn, where she decided to study horticulture — never dreaming that she would become the school’s Miss Homecoming.
“When you come in as a freshman, you’re exposed instantly to various campaigns for student government and such, but I never imagined I would walk that journey personally,” she said. “Friends encouraged me to go through this. I knew this would be an amazing opportunity to share this story. I had no idea how big it would become.”
So when Molly was chosen to run, her first instinct was to run on a platform that had something to do with her major of horticulture, especially since her campaign got its funding from a horticulture club named PLANET. Somewhere down the line, she changed to a cause that had much to do with her own life story.
“I knew I wanted to do something I would be passionate about, and a friend suggested plants, but then I decided I wanted to something that would impact lives.”
She was a bit concerned that her “Light Up Life” platform, highlighting alternatives in crisis pregnancies, could have been seen as having a pro-life, anti-abortion slant. But the message was well-received, and Molly won.
Since then, her life has been rather busy, to say the least.
“This [Tuesday] is just the second school day and it’s already been a huge response,” she said. “I never imagined — it shows how much the public wants to receive life. It has been viral.”
Molly’s story is already spreading throughout the country. Conservative talk-show host Glenn Beck put her story on his “The Blaze” website Tuesday. And that’s fine with Molly.
“I wasn’t given this story to just share on Mondays through Fridays. It will continue to spark and glow,” she said.
Molly will finish her undergraduate work in the spring, and has applied to go into Auburn’s masters degree program in horticulture. She said she hopes to eventually open her own retail nursery.
Molly is the youngest of six children — two by birth, four adopted — for Peggy.