SAN DIEGO, CA, January 23, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) – More than 3,000 pro-lifers gathered in Balboa Park near downtown San Diego on Saturday morning to celebrate the gift of life at San Diego’s first annual Walk for Life event.

The event marked 40 years since the infamous Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton Supreme Court decisions that decriminalized abortion on demand throughout all nine months of pregnancy.

Several nationally renowned speakers kicked off the walk during an energetic rally. Walter Hoye II, president of Issues4Life Foundation, was the master of ceremonies.

“Life is for everybody. Everybody deserves life,” Hoye told LifeSiteNews.com, explaining the theme of the event. “And we’re here to celebrate life in all of its meaning.”

Dr. Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, encouraged the crowd to look beyond Barack Obama's re-election to an avalanche of successes at the state level.

“There is a real rising tide of pro-life legislators who are taking back the life issue from the ground up, and that’s where the real activity is,” Dr. Yoest told LifeSiteNews.”People should be really encouraged by this.”

As a retrospective event looking back at 40 years of Roe, the San Diego Walk for Life remembered every aspect of the pro-life fight. Dr. Jim Garlow, pastor of Skyline Church and organizer of this walk, told LifeSiteNews, “The horrible news is that the [abortion] holocaust has cost the lives of so many and has damaged so many brokenhearted women who got caught up in the deception. And, it hurt the hearts of an awful lot of men who lost their kids, as well.”

“The good news is,” he went on to say, “is that the nation is actually changing – slowly admittedly – but it is changing. And, we have the highest percentage of people who are pro-life ever since the Gallup poll started their surveys.”

A May 2012 Gallup poll showed 50 percent of Americans self-identify as pro-life, with only 41 percent calling themselves “pro-choice.”

The polls are more than academic to some of the Walk's speakers. Dran Reese of Solana Beach said that she and her sister, Pammy, owed their to lives to pre-Roe abortion laws.

Dran was conceived in rape as her mother was held at gunpoint. Her sister, Pammy, was born brain damaged due prolonged gestational oxygen deprivation while her umbilical cord remained wrapped around her neck for seven months.

“If we had been born in today’s time, my mother would have aborted both of us,” she told LifeSiteNews.

Younger participants showed heartfelt gratitude that they and their siblings had survived Roe. “My youngest sister, Julia, is adopted,” said Nicolas McAfee a college senior from Upland, California, studying screenwriting at at John Paul the Great University. “She comes from a background where, in a broken family, any outsider could have said that her life is inconvenient and unnecessary, but she is the brightest spot of our lives. Defending her life means defending all lives.”

McAfee represented only one member of the movement most lamented by the pro-abortion movement: pro-life youth.

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His fellow students at John Paul the Great University lead the walk around Balboa Park, while the school's film students digitally recorded the event.

Melinda Collins, a 22 year-old senior at John Paul the Great studying video journalism attended the rally and told LifeSiteNews.com that being pro-life was driven home for her when a family member experienced the loss of a child through miscarriage.

“I’ve always been pro-life in principle, and that experience brought the reality home,” she said.

Local activists also headlined the rally, including Leslie Brunolli, coordinator of San Diego’s Silent No More Awareness Campaign; Dran Reese, president of the Salt & Light Council; and Robert Lopez, a sidewalk counselor with Helpers of God’s Precious Infant

“This rally today is the perfect example of why we’re winning,” Dr. Yoest said. “These are the people who are making a difference and who are taking our country back inch by inch.”

Pro-life activists are participating in demonstrations across the nation this week in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision.

One upcoming event is the 8th annual Walk for Life West Coast on Friday, January 25, as those participants walk down the famous Market Street through the heart of San Francisco.

“We are just adding to the already awesome numbers of the March for Life in Washington, D.C., the Walk for Life in San Francisco, and the other local rallies around the country,” Hoye said in San Diego.

The 40th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., will occur on Friday, January 25, with participants marching down the National Mall to the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.