Running for Life: Pro-lifers fight abortion using marathon
By Rosemary Bernth
Globe staff reporter
Many runners participate in races that support causes like a cure for cancer or diabetes, but one group has decided to stand behind a different plague of society – abortion.
The LIFE (Living In Faith Exchange) Runners group runs marathons and other races to raise awareness and fundraising for the pro-life cause.
“We do one marathon as a team each year,” said Pat Castle, the team coach. “Teammates are also encouraged to represent LIFE Runners at other events with the jersey, prayer and fundraising.”
Castle, who grew up in Sioux Falls, S.D. and is now stationed at the Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, co-founded the group in 2008 with running partner Rich Reich. The group has now expanded to include adult and child members from over 16 states and Kenya.
“For our 2011 team, we currently have 89 and we are on track to meet our goal of 100,” he said.
Two of those runners include Brenda and Aaron Ferrie who live in Sioux City with their two sons. Brenda is a principal at Sacred Heart School and Aaron teaches at South Sioux City Middle School. Both have been part of the team for three years.
“The core of the runners had the same belief system we did,” said Aaron. “It was for a good cause –trying to raise money for the unborn and help promote adoption, which we’re for.”
Brenda said running with the team is a great way to stand up against abortion.
“It’s another way to get out there in a positive, healthy environment and spread the same type of message,” she said. “Anytime you see people having a positive attitude, it’s contagious and people want to be a part of it.”
Aaron said the group is family-friendly and children can run the smaller distances provided at some of races, like the 5K.
“It can be a family event,” he said. “I think it’s important for the kids to understand the concept of what we’re doing, what we’re supporting, what our belief system is.”
Castle said he not only provides coaching with the training but also spiritual encouragement as the co-founder, editor and one of the authors of the LIFE Group Devotions (www.lifegroup413.org) that are written and received by the LIFE Runners.
One of the team’s slogans is – Runners run. Christians pray. LIFE Runners do both.
This year’s marathon will be on Oct. 15 in Kansas City with donations going to the Alpha Center in Sioux Falls to help support its Fleet for Little Feet crisis pregnancy bus that has provided free ultrasounds throughout the region, including Sioux City.
According to Castle, he said two LIFE Runners are expected to cross the finish line first — Rachel Linder for the female division and her fiancé Kiplimo Chemirmir for the male. But Castle said all levels of runners are welcome on the team and they have one teammate competing in a wheelchair.
“They just need to believe in the vision, mission and values of the LIFE Runners,” he said.
Aaron said he feels there is a role for everyone on the team, runners and non-runners alike.
“Some people are involved in the running aspect,” he said. “Some are involved with supplying food at the races. Some are just involved by giving donations and prayers. We’ve had people walk events, cheer at events. There are a lot of different areas they could get involved in. We even have people watch the kids during the race.”
Brenda said she gets asked a lot about her jersey and uses it to recruit more teammates.
“Whether they’re a runner or a non-runner, they’ll hear about it or see you with your shirts and want to be part of the group,” said Brenda.
Castle said he believes LIFE Runners can make a difference to save the lives of the unborn and their families.
“Let’s continue to run and pray that we soon will cross the finish line for the end of abortion,” he said. “We need to stay strong, stay vigilant.”
For more information about joining the team as a runner, prayer partner, or sponsor for the Kansas City half/full Marathon, contact Coach Pat Castle at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Web site, www.run.lifegroup413.org.