Young Adults Walk Across the Country…

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The Shreveport Times

July 9, 2004

By Diane Haag

With faith, passion for their cause and little else, nine young adults are walking across the country in protest of abortion.

Wearing white T-shirts with “Pro-Life” in six-inch blue letters, the group walked through Shreveport on Wednesday and prayed at Hope Medical Group for Women on Thursday.

“Americans have become desensitized to abortion,” said Nicole Klarkowski of Appleton, Wis. “We’re trying to raise awareness.”

The 3,200-mile pilgrimage is part of Crossroads Inc., an independent, Roman Catholic organization. It was started in 1994 by a student at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, as a way for young people to get more involved.

Most of the walkers were students at small Catholic colleges. They traded in jobs, summer school and air conditioning for blisters, sore muscles and an RV with a broken air conditioner.

“Whenever I’m tired or hot, I think about the babies being aborted and I can stand the heat for five more minutes,” said Renee Richard, 19, of Ave Maria University in Florida.

This year, 26 people are walking either the Northern or Southern route.

The Southern group started May 19 on Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles and will end its journey Aug. 14 in Washington, D.C. While nine will walk the entire route, others will join them for shorter periods during the summer.

The group walks in shifts for a total of about 20 hours each weekday and covers an average of about 70 miles a day. A van follows for support and emergencies. Saturdays, they often stop to pray at abortion clinics or Planned Parenthood offices, where they also do sidewalk counseling for women approaching the clinic. Sundays, they speak at different churches.

The group, which started with $7, has relied on donations to pay for food and gasoline.

While the occasional heckler will find them and shout, they said most of what they hear is support, obvious in strangers who take them in for the night and restaurant owners who provide free meals.

“America is by far pro-life, but we’re a silent majority,” said Ben Broussard, a 20-year-old student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Each member also has heard testimonies from women who have had abortions. In one church, a woman approached them with a check for $280. It was the amount she paid for a friend to have an abortion years ago.

“We’re here to save the lives of babies, but we’re not just here for them,” Klarkowski said. “It’s for the whole society in general. If we continue to embrace contraception and abortion, our families will not be what God wants them to be.”

©The Shreveport Times

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