By MARYLEE SHRIDER,
Talk about walking the walk.
Sarah Gallaher has made a summer of it, forgoing job and vacation to walk across America, from Seattle to Washington, D.C.
Her mission? To hike the nation’s highways and byways as a “witness for the sanctity and dignity of all human life from conception to natural death.”
Wow. When I was 19 and just out of high school, all I wanted was a weekend at Pismo.
But Gallaher, who grew up in Arvin and graduated last year from the Valley Oaks Charter School in Bakersfield, is one of those self-assured teens who breaks from the gate convinced she was put on this earth to make a difference.
Which is why she and a team of 11 like-minded college kids met on May 20 in Seattle, turned east and started walking. They figure they’ll make it our nation’s capital by Aug. 12, sharing their pro-life message with passers-by, parishes and churches along the way.
They’re almost there.
Gallaher and her team, all volunteers with Crossroads Inc., a Roman Catholic anti-abortion ministry, expect to make it to Boston today, Gallaher told me via cell phone. Next weekend it’s New York City, she said, then on to Washington.
“We walk Monday through Friday, but on weekends we stop at major cities, split up and speak at different parishes,” she said. “We’re always prepared to talk about our message.”
It was a message Gallaher was shy talking about at first, but, emboldened by the overwhelmingly positive response from those she’s met in the 11 states she’s passed through so far, she’s become quite the talker. She figures she shares her message with at least 10 people a day.
“People honk, smile and wave. Some share their stories with us,” she said. “We’ve had some negative responses, but it’s been 95 percent positive. America is pro-life — we just need more people to stand up and say so.”
Gallaher’s crew is one of three Crossroads teams hoofing it cross country in the nonprofit’s 12th annual summer walk. Each departed on the same day — the Central Team from San Francisco and the Southern Team from Los Angeles. Each are on track to meet on the steps of the U.S. Capital on the same day, despite the heat wave that’s plagued the Southern Team, said Crossroads National Director Martha Nolan.
The teams cover the miles collectively, walking in shifts Monday through Friday, covering about 30 to 40 miles a day in all weather. Each team member walks about five miles before switching places with a team member in the support van, trading off until the day’s requisite miles are done. Nights are spent in the team RV or in churches or host homes along the route.
On weekends, the teams visit churches, talk to youth groups and pray at abortion clinics, handing out brochures and bumper stickers as they go.
The team uniform is a T-shirt with the message “PRO LIFE” boldly emblazoned on the front. It’s the only shirt the walkers wear and each team member gets two — one to wear through the week and the other to wear to church on Sunday.
Gallaher said her 15-to-20-mile daily treks were tough at first, but her legs are now toned and ready for the road. Naturally, she and her teammates have grappled with impediments like rain, blisters, fatigue and even the occasional abortion rights missile hurled from passing cars.
None of which bothers Gallaher in the least. Anything, she said, to “serve God and save babies.”
“I wouldn’t want to spend this summer any other way,” she said. “It’s been one of the hardest and best summers of my life.”
Marylee Shrider’s column appears Tuesdays and Saturdays. For comments or questions please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a voicemail at 395-7474.
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