Praying, running and raising funds for pro-life
By Kristi Anderson
For The Visitor
On Oct. 15, 12,000 runners will lace up their shoes and hit the pavement in Kansas City — 140 of them will be running for the unborn.
The LIFE Runners, a division of the Living In Faith Exchange Group, have been training for this full and half marathon to raise funds and awareness for the pro-life movement.
Steve Castle, business manager at Our Lady of Victory Parish in Fergus Falls, is a LIFE Runner who will be participating in the race. He is also an author and collaborator of the LIFE Group which provides Catholic devotional messages via email, a blog and website.
“What makes it special is that we use the whole running experience as a prayer for the babies and for their mothers,” Castle said. “We use the physical aches and pains in our bodies, along with the mental focus of what we are doing and the spirituality of offering it all up in prayer. It incorporates all of us in our body, mind and spirit.”
Goal exceeded for third marathon
The LIFE Runners started with their first marathon in 2008 in Chicago, with subsequent races in the Twin Cities in 2009 and Sioux Falls, S.D., in 2010.
This year, the LIFE Runners set an aggressive goal: recruiting 100 runners and raising $25,000 for the half and full marathon in Kansas City. They have exceeded the participant goal with 145 participants from 19 states, including 20 children. Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., will be among those running for life.
The group has supported various pro-life organizations across the country, with this year’s funds benefiting the Sioux Falls Alpha Center pregnancy help bus that provides free ultrasounds in rural areas. Fundraising above the goal will be donated to the Kansas City Wyandotte Pregnancy Clinic help bus.
Castle explained, “Statistics show that 87 percent of mothers considering abortion who see their baby via ultrasound choose life. These buses travel around providing opportunities for women that might not otherwise receive an ultrasound.”
Running becomes prayer
Participants from the Diocese of St. Cloud will include Jill and Randy Fischer, who will run a 5K at the Kansas City race; Castle, who will run the full marathon; Castle’s daughter, Briana, 11, who will run the 5K and his daughter, Mary, 8, who will run the 1.2-mile. Castle’s wife, Tina, will run the half marathon.
“I feel it is important to be a part of the LIFE Runners because it gives me the opportunity to put my passion for saving the unborn into action,” said Tina, who currently holds the position of Fergus Falls Chapter Champion, providing a local leadership presence.
“Running becomes my prayer,” she added. “As the Fergus Falls Chapter Champion, my responsibilities include organizing training runs, participation in local races, and promoting fellowship. I am also the primary contact in terms of recruitment in this area, working closely with the primary leadership of the LIFE Runners.”
What began as a mutual faith sharing between two Air Force lieutenant colonels — Steve’s brother, Pat Castle, and Rich Reich — has now become an international network of more than 900 believers, supporters and runners for the pro-life movement.
Pat Castle and Rich Reich met in Colorado Springs while training for an Air Force marathon.
Family and friends learned of their electronic sharing and wanted to be a part of it. To Pat and Rich’s surprise, the distribution list quickly grew to more than 300 email recipients. Eventually, they started a blog, authoring their own daily inspirational messages and forming the LIFE Group.
“The name LIFE Group focuses on the Christian’s calling to live the faith and share it,” Pat said. “The name also points us to the greatest of causes — life — to save unborn babies and their families.”
Answering the call
In 2009, Pat encouraged his brother, Steve, to get involved.
“Being a part of LIFE Group appealed to me in many ways,” Steve said. “First, it was an opportunity to use my gifts and talents by answering my baptismal call in an outward way. Second, it is Catholic and pro-life, which appealed to me. And last, because it was a chance to walk side by side with my brother in ministry.”
The team now consists of four web authors and collaborators, Pat, Rich, Steve and Rob Rysavy, a wide array of guest authors, many contributors and a website — lifegroup413.org — with more than 900 subscribers to the daily LIFE devotions.
Steve said his personal experience as a LIFE Runner, author and collaborator has significantly affected his own faith life.
“It has tied me closer to the church in terms of the liturgical cycle, Mass readings and the saints,” he said. “It has also sharpened my knowledge of Scripture through a much more regimented daily exercise of reading it.
“There are some sacrifices of time, but my wife and children are very supportive,” he said. “They believe it is making me a stronger, more committed man of God and thus a better husband and father.”
The LIFE Group and LIFE Runners know that not everyone will make the trek to Kansas City this year to participate in the marathon.
“You don’t have to go to Kansas City to remember the unborn,” Steve said. “There is a place in the LIFE Runners family for everyone, whether its prayerful support, financial help, volunteering or running. There is a unique way to do something for life.”
He suggested beginning by signing up to receive the daily devotions before dusting off the old running shoes.
“I hope that our readers can see that there is something you can do around this socially paralyzing issue of abortion — you can pray, you can financially support organizations at the tip of the spear in this battle for life and death, and you can be a voice for the unborn in the marketplace,” he said.
“As a LIFE Runner, you can do this right where you are at. Being a part of this group is just one way you can creatively tackle this subject and be an example to others that may be on the fence regarding this issue.”
Websites and contact information
LIFE Runners: www.run.lifegroup413.org
LIFE Group: www.lifegroup413.org
LIFE Runners Steve and Tina Castle, right, along with Randy and Jill Fischer are preparing to take their pro-life message to Kansas City for an Oct. 15 marathon. Paul Middlestaedt/The Visitor