03 Feb Team Recap – DC March and San Fran Walk
The National LIFE Runners Team express started with an evening gathering of leaders from Save The Storks, LIFE Runners and Vitae Foundation. The next morning was the Law of Life Summit which was a who’s who of Pro-Life leadership. Wow! More than 30 speakers represented leading Pro-Life organizations that are on the cutting edge of the movement. Dr. Pat Castle, LIFE Runners president and co-founder, Vitae Foundation incoming president and Law of Life Summit co-founder, did an outstanding job as the emcee for the event. He masterfully managed the 32 speakers to get all in within the tight 2 hour sell-out/standing room only event. Rob Rysavy, LIFE Runners and Vitae Foundation board member, did an exceptional job sharing great insights. He pointed to the rapid global LIFE Runners growth and the impact, encouraging all to join. As always, great job Rob!
Anne Carmichael, LIFE Runners vp communications and Vitae vp, spoke on behalf of the Vitae Foundation’s life-saving media that has aired in 95 US markets and 16 foreign countries. She said, “Where Vitae ads go up, abortions go down.” She reached back into history and based on Dr. Marvin Olasky’s research, shared that abortions were just as prevalent in the 1860’s per capita as they are today. What brought them down to an all time low in 1910 was the support services offered by women’s groups and others. The same kind of support as today’s pregnancy centers. Vitae media directs abortion-minded, pregnant women in need to local pregnancy centers.
After the Law of Life Summit, LIFE Runners was notified (4 pm) that the DC Park Service had canceled the Nellie Gray 5K due to the snow accumulation and cold. The LIFE Runners team was at the Youth Rally already, so Pat Castle, while on stage with the Keelan Glass family to promote Nellie Gray 5K, announced to the group that the race had been canceled. The second race for the team, in 4 months, that was canceled due to snow. But in the words of our leader…forward!
The next day LIFE Runners assembled the massive banner that Sara Beaner made for the March with special PVC piping to frame it. The guys were designated official banner carriers due to the weight. Even though the banner and tubing required a large/long box, Pat gladly traveled with it to DC, San Francisco and then back to Rapid City. On to the epic March for Life…Pat Castle referred to it as redemptive marching. He was right. There was a lot going on though, so the adrenaline was flowing. With banner in place, the group assembled near the stage area of the rally preparing for 2 interviews with EWTN. Jeff Pauls, LIFE Runners vp operations, had an amazing interview with Spanish EWTN. He spoke fluent Spanish (beautifully) and then presented the host, Elena Rodriguez, with the first Spanish LIFE Runners shirt. Following that interview, LIFE Runners received their first member from Mexico. Many others followed. Jeff you are so awesome!!
Then Pat Castle did an interview with EWTN. He did an outstanding job getting everything in quickly including the presentation to Keelan Glass, Female Student LIFE Runner of the Year. Pretty exciting! Later we received emails and messages from other LIFE Runners around the country that said they, too, were joining in with the LIFE Runners cheer Pat ended the interview with, “All In Christ…for Pro-Life! Within minutes, over 50 new LIFE Runners signed up online. How cool is that??
While the EWTN interview was being aired we saw another LIFE Runners teammate from Missouri standing off to the side, Fr. Joseph Totton who was with a fellow priest from the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. So cool running into teammates in a crowd of more than a half million people. That is more than 5 football stadiums.
Then we ran into Pro-Life Congressman Chris Smith who spoke at the rally. He has been fighting for the unborn in the U.S. House of Representatives going back nearly 30 years .
Jeanne Monahan asked Pro-Life leaders to come up on stage at the end of the rally. Pat, Anne, and Keelan Glass are seen here on stage.
Then it was time to begin the epic March for Life for the 41st time. Rob Rysavy, Jeff Pauls, and Pat Castle took turns carrying and occasionally would be relieved by others. The extremely large banner that said “REMEMBER The Unborn” on one side and “Go LIFE Runners” on the other, was created by LIFE Runner Sara Beaner. Sara’s banners are always the largest and most visible. This year it was named one of the most inspiring at the March for Life too. This was out of thousands of others! Also, it was in 2 of the 22 photos in the official March for Life photo album. There are hundreds of groups respresented at the March – so that is pretty incredible!
At the end of the March we ran into our friend and pro-life hero, Star Parker, what a great surprise.
Also ran into Karen Knollkemper, Respect Life Director for Archdiocese of St. Louis. Pictured here with Pat Castle and Vitae’s Kristina Davis.The Rose Dinner was that evening. Pat was able to spend some time with Dr. James Dobson (founder of Focus on the Family), among others.
From DC’s March for Life to San Francisco’s West Coast Walk for Life
On the way to Dulles Airport, with five others, Pat read out loud the LIFE Runner’s Devotion, “Light of the Living.,” that Jeff Pauls had written. It was very appropriate as he and 6 others rode along in the dark at 5 am.
San Francisco was a balmy 70 degrees. Rob Rysavy is pictured here wearing his LIFE Runner jacket with “REMEMBER The Unborn” walking through Chinatown and surrounding area of San Francisco. We are called to be bold! Way to represent, Rob!
After attending Mass with the Youth Rally participants, we met up with our new LIFE Runners teammate and tri-athlete, Vicki Evans, who is also the San Francisco Archdiocesan Respect Life Coordinator. Had a great meeting.
While we were with her she shared how the West Coast Walk for Life started and what it was like back then. Vicki is a very accomplished Pro-Life hero with a fiery commitment to her faith and the cause for life. Read Vicki’s blog – here’s an excerpt: “I used to think I might be a martyr someday. I actually wanted to be one. I believed this might occur during San Francisco’s Walk for Life West Coast, when in 2005, for the first time, we challenged the City’s militant pro-abortion culture at our peril. But something happened on the way to the Coliseum. The secular culture went too far in its unconditional embrace of abortion and our side started to win. Not only were we Walkers not martyred, but polls started turning against those favoring unrestricted abortion. Young people came to San Francisco in droves championing the Walk’s message that abortion hurts women, men, children, families, society; and women deserve better than abortion. We glimpsed the future of the pro-life movement and it was not what the prevailing culture was predicting. The Walk for Life confronts the worst of San Francisco, a City that prides itself on being unreservedly pro-abortion…Maybe we’re getting harder to ignore. Maybe the Walk for Life will be our gift to the West Coast in the 21st century and we won’t be martyrs after all.”
The group that gathered at the West Coast Law of Life Summit had some of the most interesting people – speakers and attendees. Dr. Pat Castle, the event emcee, again did an excellent job facilitating the forum. It was stacked with Pro-Life leaders like David Bereit, Fr. Frank Pavone, Fr. Terry Gensemer, Reggie Littlejohn, Rob Rysavy, Anne Carmichael and Dolores Meehan (one of the founders of the West Coast Walk for Life). There was so much excitement among the group that they didn’t want it to end.
Before the event ended and as Dolores Meehan was finishing, she and Dr. Castle agreed to the LIFE Runners hosting a 5K for the West Coast Walk for Life. So awesome! LIFE Runners will now be a permanent part of not only the largest but now even the second largest Pro-Life event in the country. Outstanding! Below is a picture of Pat and Rob visiting with Dolores with buses in the background prior to the Walk for Life.
LIFE Runners making our way to Mass and then WC Rally and Walk for LIFE.
Assembling the awesome banner!
Then stood back and watched as it became a photo op.
We met up with LIFE Runners Scott and Lisa Stewart from Oregon.
They helped carry the banner and the flag to the gathering place for the Walk for Life Rally.
The LIFE Runners banner was one of the largest at the 60,000-person rally. EWTN did another interview with Pat (Go to the 17:10 minute mark in the video). Our banner was used as the backdrop for the EWTN set where they were broadcasting live from the rally. So awesome!
Now other LIFE Runners are gathering from all over, Mary Claire Miller,
Sacramento, CA and Craig Stump, Tuscon, AZ who posted this on LIFE Runners Facebook page afterwards, “A great privilege to walk with Life Runners yesterday!” Craig is pictured here in center under banner.
There were many outstanding speakers at the rally and they focused on how “Abortion Hurts Women.” After about an hour LIFE Runners move into position…
60,000 strong in one of the most hostile areas of country regarding abortion.
LIFE Runners being bold in San Fran – All In Christ for Pro-Life!
…And then came the abortion supporters, bullhorns and all.
There were a variety of areas where these groups were a long the way but definitely not one large group as it was years past. The massive body of pro-life walkers, moved on passed and continued to the waterfront which is where it concluded. There were more EWTN interviews, some on lookers that had questions, and LIFE Runners visited with other pro-life folks about our organization. We ran into Leanne Ruperto, the small but mighty LIFE Runner who will start the Relay from San Fran’s Golden Gate Bridge. Here, Leanne is receiving a blessing from Fr. John Paul (EWTN).
As the crowd began to fade, LIFE Runners made their way to church (click on link). Heading down The Embarcadero, then Broadway, Columbus, Grant and then Vallejo St. (North Beach). As the team moved through the area streets there were some honks, cheers and jeers, along the way.
It was a wonderful LIFE Runners adventure from DC to San Fran. We encourage all to add any of their own pictures to the LIFE Runners Facebook Page photo albums for WC Walk for Life and the DC March for Life.
Now we are moving right into A-Cross America Relay leg sign ups and racing to get all signed up for the Air Force 5K/10/half/full Marathon before it fills (possibly by 1 March). Time is running out – click on the link to get info and sign up now. This is the LIFE Runners annual fall race. The Vitae Foundation sent you a special gift/reminder in the mail. Watch for it.
As the LIFE Runners president, Dr. Pat Castle always tells our Team…“Forward, forward, always forward!” God first, Life always, Teammates forever!