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Local youth rally in D.C. for March for Life

February 12, 2014

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Daniel Ellis, member of the Oakland University chapter of Students for Life of Michigan Oakland University chapter, proudly holds a “I was adopted” sign while marching in the 41st March for Life.
Cullen Callaghan, member of the Students for Life of Michigan Oakland University chapter, marches in front of the Detroit chapter of Crusaders for LIFE.

METRO DETROIT — The March for Life drew its largest crowd at the 40th anniversary event last year with more than 600,000 supporters, and despite single-digit temperatures, Oakland County students traveled about 12 hours to march in this year’s 41st anniversary event in Washington, D.C., Jan. 22.

People of all ages and religions rallied along Constitution Avenue, said Mirna Awrow, president for the Oakland University chapter of Students for Life of Michigan.

“Why we march specifically is we believe public demonstrations are very crucial for drawing attention to specific issues,” Awrow said, explaining Students for Life of Michigan’s hope that representatives think of the hundreds of thousands of people marching before making policy changes.

“It was unbelievable how many people were just out there and supporting life,” Awrow added.

Eighteen students from Oakland University traveled with other Students for Life of Michigan chapters, including the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Grand Valley State University and Central Michigan University.

Crammed on coach buses, the students departed for D.C. Jan. 20 and not only participated in the march, but attended the Students for Life conference, which consisted of about 2,500 students participating in a training event. The conference educated students across the nation on how to be anti-abortion activists.

The night prior to the march, a youth rally and Mass were held in the Verizon Center, which Right to Life – LIFESPAN from Oakland and Macomb counties attended.

The Verizon Center, which is a multipurpose sports and entertainment venue, typically holds 20,000 people. Due to the snow and cold temperatures, the center was more than half-filled, which is less than normal, said Lynn Gura, LIFESPAN’s youth program coordinator. 

“You couldn’t tell it was that cold out from all the enthusiasm people had. It was like, ‘Oh, this is beautiful,’” Gura said.

LIFESPAN began as an organization working to overturn Roe v. Wade in 2000.

About 300 people traveled in six buses with LIFESPAN, with the majority being students from local high schools, parishes and church youth groups in the Oakland, Macomb and Wayne county areas.

“I really was amazed at how many kids still came, in spite of the weather and in spite of schools having testing going on,” Gura said, explaining they packed eight buses in 2013.

Gura said one of the popular mantras professed during the march was “I survived Roe v. Wade, but Roe V. Wade will not survive me.”

“This younger generation are really wanting and working very hard to abolish abortion in their lifetime,” Gura said.

The 41st anniversary of March for Life theme was “Adoption is a heroic decision for pregnant mothers who find themselves in a difficult situation.”

Though the number of marchers did not reach 500,000 this year, CBS News reported that the March for Life digital footprint left a mark with an increase of supporting messages over social media from the United States to Pope Francis, who tweeted “I join the March for Life in Washington with my prayers. May God help us respect all life, especially the most vulnerable.”

Awrow said the Students for Life turned to social media outlets throughout their trip, using #whywemarch, #students4lifeOU and #march4life. The three hashtags were trending on Twitter, Awrow added.

“Using social media is great because, a lot of times, you can’t hide our hashtags,” Awrow said. “There’s a lot of big newspapers that won’t cover the March for Life, but when you have people using the hashtags and bringing attention to it, there’s no way to hide that.”

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