BY ANNA ALBRITTAIN
This year at Franciscan University, Students for Life will be sponsoring the school's new chapter of LIFE Runners in order to help promote a culture of life and love.
Students for Life President Victor Bermudez said, "I wanted to start a chapter to give students, especially those with a passion for running, an opportunity to use their athletic abilities to save lives and glorify God."
Dr. Pat Castle, the coach and co-founder of LIFE Runners, first contacted Bermudez about starting LIFE Runners at Franciscan. Bermudez was immediately interested.
"I questioned him about himself and the work he was doing with Life Runners and was very impressed," said Bermudez. "I then scheduled a time for him to come by and speak about LIFE Runners and start a chapter so we can join him in saving lives."
Castle visited Franciscan near the beginning of the semester in order to introduce his organization.
"On Sept. 8, I gladly presented the LIFE Runners' mission to end abortion to the Students for Life," said Castle. "Afterwards, Fr. Gregory asked me to pray the LIFE Runners Creed with the cross-country team."
LIFE Runners was formed three years ago by Castle and his running partner, Rich Reich, branching off from and adding to the LIFE Group Devotions, which they co-founded in 2007. In the past years, the LIFE Runners team has competed in the 2008 Chicago Marathon, the 2009 Twin Cities Marathon, and the 2010 Sioux Falls half/full Marathon.
The next national LIFE Runners team event is the Kansas City half/full Marathon. The goal of this event is to "build a miracle team of 100 LIFE Runners to raise $25K for the Alpha Center pregnancy help bus (which gives free ultrasounds in rural areas)...saving unborn children and their families. Each teammate's goal is to recruit two more LIFE Runners, inspire 5 sponsors, personally donate, and raise at least $250. Fundraising above our $25K goal will be donated to the Kansas City Wyandotte Pregnancy Clinic help bus."
Students for Life is already making plans to help LIFE Runners reach this goal.
Bermudez said, "We haven't established our first event or fundraiser yet, [but] we will have sign-ups in Egan very soon and from there we will start discussing our events."
The success of this new chapter of LIFE Runners depends on the enthusiastic participation of the student body here at Franciscan, which Bermudez is confident they will receive.
"I think LIFE Runners will be extremely successful because this is a way for students to do something they love and already do and at the same time protect the dignity of human life as well as cross 'running a marathon' off their bucket list," he said.
Annie Hearn was announced as the school's LIFE Runners chapter leader, and she will coordinate with Bermudez and the Students for Life advisor, Ron McNamara, in order to help reach this year's goal and to uphold the LIFE Runners' core values: "Keep the Faith, Respect Life from Conception to Natural Death, Run so as to Win."