(LifeSiteNews) — Thousands of people saw and heard the pro-life message “REMEMBER the Unborn” at a national marathon earlier this month.
LIFE Runners, the “world’s largest pro-life team,” come together annually at a marathon and this year’s gathering took place on December 2-3 in Memphis, Tennessee. As part of the St. Jude Memphis Marathon weekend, participants ran and walked in full and half marathons as well as a 5K and 10K. Those unable to run or walk gathered from across the country to support fellow pro-lifers and spread the pro-life message.
Regardless of the level of participation, LIFE Runners attended the event wearing jackets and jerseys emblazoned with the message, “REMEMBER the Unborn,” bearing witness to the sanctity of life in the womb.
“The goal of the annual national marathon is to plant and water the truth that Christ came to give us life abundantly and that God knew us even before we were in our mother’s womb,” Dr. Pat Castle, president and founder of LIFE Runners, told LifeSiteNews. “This witness is life-saving, as 78% of post-abortion mothers report that they would have chosen life if they had received encouragement from a person or a sign.”
Castle said that of the 20,000 participants at the event, 35 “saw our big ‘REMEMBER The Unborn’ banner at the race expo, registered and got a LIFE Runners jersey on the spot.” He added that “those who didn’t join immediately are now aware of our ministry and will be more apt to join when invited again as invitation is evangelization.”
Each year, LIFE Runners gather for a national race and unified witness, registering for a “race expo booth” to be allowed to “put up the big ‘REMEMBER The Unborn’ banner for thousands to see.” LIFE Runners hold the banner at both the start and end of the race, encouraging their teammates in the race as well as expecting mothers who may be considering abortion to choose life.
Additionally, the annual event includes a Mass hosted by the local bishop, a Knights of Columbus-sponsored meal, and presentations to local schoolchildren given by Castle. The details are arranged through a joint effort from LIFE Runners and their national chaplain, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, and the host diocese.
Participants also pray at local abortion facilities “if abortion is still legal in that state.” However, since this year’s event took place in Tennessee, that part of the gathering did not occur. The state’s abortion ban went into effect after Roe’s reversal.
“This was our first national race in a state where abortion is now illegal,” Castle said. “Praise God! This is the first time we didn’t have to pray in front of an abortion facility the day prior to the race.”
LIFE Runners began when Castle “had an encouraging encounter with St. Padre Pio while racing the Pikes Peak Ascent in 2006.” A men’s Bible study was formed after this encounter, which led to widespread production of pro-life devotions. Two years later, the ministry attended their first marathon in Chicago, where “12 LIFE Runners raised funds for ultrasound equipment.”
“Now 20,618 LIFE Runners are wearing ‘REMEMBER The Unborn’ jerseys and jackets in 3,367 cities across 43 nations,” Castle explained. “Running is optional and faith required. Our team cheer is ‘All in Christ for Pro-Life!’”
In addition to the annual marathon, the ministry hosts the A-Cross America Relay for Pro-Life, another yearly event. The relay is “the largest spanning pro-life event in the world, covering 5,359 miles over 40 days.”
“The relay involves teammates around the world completing 5K segments of the relay in their local area or course,” Castle said. “The course is coast to coast and border to border, making a cross over our nation.”
The 284 local chapters — 96 of which are based in schools — hold monthly “huddles” where “students wear their ‘REMEMBER The Unborn’ jerseys at school on the first Wednesday of each month.” More than 8,400 students, from kindergarten to college, “wear this message to be heroically pro-life, preventing abortions.” Castle noted that LIFE Runners aims to “market life to students as the preferred choice before they face an unexpected pregnancy.”
Over the past year, LIFE Runners has received almost 4,000 new teammates, “bringing us to over 20,000 active pro-life witnesses.”
Castle emphasized the ability for anyone to join the ministry, regardless of ability to physically run or walk during events. He added that he encourages and challenges people of all ages and places to consider joining and that “God is calling you right now to take a moment to register for updates and order a ‘REMEMBER The Unborn’ jersey or jacket … which will impact hearts and minds for saving lives.”
Those interested in registering as a LIFE Runners team member can do so here.