An avid long distance runner, I have run one marathon, 11 half marathons, two 10Ks, and countless 5Ks. I realized in high school that running is in my blood and have been running ever since. I love running for the freedom it provides through discipline, for the competition, and for the occasional run where everything comes together and you tear down previously established limits.
One of the observations I made soon after I started running on the local 5K circuit is that every race has a beneficiary: cancer research, sororities, firefighters, museums, or even the wallet of the person hosting the race. Being focused on running, improving, and taking a shot at personal records, I am usually not concerned with where my money goes, but instead with where my competition and where my mile splits go. My attitude shifted last year when it dawned on me that my money could be supporting the greatest evil in society.
A Change in Attitude
I don’t remember if a story on the local news or a story on the web clued me in, but I learned that the Susan G. Komen organization not only supports cancer research, but also provides monetary support to Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides abortions among its list of “services.” Considering that the life issue is my primary political voting issue, I felt like an outright dope when I had this realization.
Several of my Catholic friends considered it old news when I brought my discovery to them. Over time I had developed a position that bought the Komen foundation’s marketing: “The color pink and the pink ribbon are symbols to rally behind.” I acknowledge that cancer research and finding a cure for cancer are noble undertakings, but I refuse to support an organization that supports the murder of innocents. Having made this discovery, I am much more careful now with where I place my racing dollars, even if it means sacrificing races that I have traditionally enjoyed or avoiding races with fast courses. Additionally, I avoid giving time or money to Komen-related events and fundraisers and encourage others to avoid supporting the organization.
This experience begs the question: If there are running organizations that are so blatantly anti-life, are there groups that Catholics should rally behind?
“Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24
On a recent road trip, I had the radio set to the local Catholic radio station. A talk show was on and the host was interviewing a gentleman who founded LIFE Runners, a running group that prays for the end of abortion and raises money for pro-life causes. Discovering a running group that is authentically Catholic and pro-life raised my spirits and prompted me to learn more about LIFE Runners.
The vision and values of the group as stated on their web site:
Vision: Pray and run as a team until we Cross the finish line that ends abortion.
Values: Keep the Faith, Respect Life from Conception to Natural Death, Run so as to Win.
Last year the LIFE Runners team of 170 runners and walkers raised over $35,000 for free ultrasounds. The group had members in 20 states and included 22 youth. Members meet for monthly runs, pray before races, and attend pro-life events. LIFE Runners provides you with either a marathon or half-marathon training plan depending on which distance you prefer.
Runners and walkers interested in moving their feet to support the cause should see if you have a local chapter (there are currently 31 chapters): http://liferunners.org/chapters. If you would like to start a chapter in your city, you’ll need a minimum of five runners and should contact firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in supporting LIFE Runners financially, visit http://www.firstgiving.com or follow this link to go directly to the personal fundraising pages of the team’s runners: http://www.firstgiving.com/process/teamarea/default.asp?did=2488&teamid=187909.
Of course, let’s keep the team in our prayers and offer them abundant spiritual support as they carry on their important mission.