Fundraiser unites Catholics, Protestants in walking for life

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A man in a wheelchair rolls for life at last year’s Walk for Life benefitting Choices Pregnancy Centers of Phoenix. (Courtesy of Raul Reyes)

Choices Pregnancy Center Walk for Life

April 14
Registration: 8 a.m.
Start time: 9 a.m.
Starting points
  • ASU Gammage Lawn, 1200 S. Forest Ave., Tempe
  • ASU West, 4701 W. Thunderbird Rd., Glendale
    (This location will also have a run, with registration at 7:30 a.m. and start time at 8:30 a.m.)
  • Desert Springs Community Church, 14440 W. Indian School Rd., Goodyear

REGISTER OR MORE INFORMATION

By Margaret Naczek
The Catholic Sun

Some walks are easier than others. The walk into an abortion clinic is likely among the toughest.

Those who join an April 14 benefit walk can make the journey some take toward an abortion clinic a story of a successful “turnaround” toward a true crisis pregnancy center instead. The walk raises funds for the Choices Pregnancy Centers of Greater Phoenix. Catholics, Protestants and people of goodwill are expected to join in a concrete way to help end abortion.

“Every aspect of the Body of Christ can come together — Catholic, Protestant, all sorts of people who love God and love life and want to make a difference for life,” said Raul Reyes, president of the CPC. “It is the most effective way a believer can save a life.”

Since its establishment in 1983, the CPC of Greater Phoenix has organized walks for life of varying levels of intensity and commitment. After a short hiatus, Reyes and his wife, Christine, executive director, revitalized the annual event, which has now been continuing for about five years.

The Walk for Life is the largest pro-life walk organized by a pregnancy center in Arizona. This year, the CPC walk expanded to three locations — Arizona State University’s Tempe and ASU West campuses plus Desert Springs Community Church in Goodyear.

The family-friendly event features prizes for participants. Those who raise $200, for example, receive a Walk for Life T-shirt to help spread the pro-life movement. Community organizations will have tents where representatives talk about the pro-life movement and live music is planned to keep participants energized.

CPC is an evangelical Christian-based organization with a mission, according to its website, to “turn the hearts of mothers to their children, and the hearts of parents to their Heavenly Father.” The organization currently has three pregnancy centers and is opening a fourth this year at Camelback and 19th Avenue.

Mike Phelan, director of Office of Marriage and Respect Life for the Diocese of Phoenix, said CPC provides good care services and that its members “are witnesses to the power of Jesus Christ.”

The Diocese of Phoenix has collaborated with the CPC on a number of occasions, including the recent March for Life in January and pro-life boards. Ecumenical cooperation is what excites both Reyes and Phelan about the upcoming Walk for Life.

“For us to work together with our separated Christian brethren and others of good will, who have concern for life — we are more effective when we do things in tandem,” Phelan said.

“It’s so important that we show that we are united as Catholic and Protestant, especially when it comes to the issue of life,” Reyes said. “It’s a beautiful Body of Christ. We are standing united for the life of these unborn babies.”

A young family bears witness for life with their children during last year’s Walk for Life. (Courtesy of Raul Reyes)

Many Catholic parishes and organizations in the area are partners in the event, Reyes said, including the Catholic Daughters of the Americas court from Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Sun City West.

“Anything that shows support that’s national or [increases] local attention may be helpful in making a decision to save a life,” said the court’s regent Joyce Stallions.

Reyes expects about 300-400 participants at each walk location and hopes to raise around $250,000 to fund the CPC’s pro-life mission.

Phelan believes pro-life events such as the Walk for Life illustrate the joyful and loving aspects of the pro-life movement, starkly different from the usual angry portrayal Phelan believes the movement normally receives.

“I’m looking forward to it being another joy-filled example of how the pro-life movement actually lives and exists,” Phelan said.

The witness to Christian living — Catholic or otherwise — is what makes the Walk for Life a powerful testament to the growing pro-life movement in Arizona and nationally.

Participants can still register for the walk online at the CPC’s website, cpcphoenix.org.