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Families teaming up for pro-life relay race that will span the country

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Faith and family will come together when a pro-life running event that is spanning the country moves through Omaha.

Scheduled to reach Omaha March 20, the inaugural A-Cross the Country Relay for Pro-Life is sponsored by the Living in Faith Exchange (LIFE) Runners group, which strives to end abortion through prayer, public awareness such as running events and fundraising for pro-life activities.

And some of the local runners, including sisters Billie Dixon of St. Margaret Mary Parish and Molly Suter of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, and Becky Gregory and her children, of St. Wencelaus Parish, all in Omaha, are teaming up to help spread the message.

For Dixon and Suter, the relay combines two of their passions - the pro-life movement and competitive running. Both are training for a half marathon in Lincoln, and they will run separate 3.1-mile legs through Omaha, meeting up near St. Cecilia Cathedral.

"The shadows of St Cecilia's will be a great location to get inspired for the run," said Dixon.

She said she could hardly wait for the royal blue jersey to arrive in the mail. Sporting a cross and dove on the front and the saying "REMEMBER the Unborn" across the back, she said she'll wear it proudly during all her running events to draw attention to the cause.

Suter said the relay offers an opportunity to remind people that the pro-life movement remains motivated and determined to end abortion in the United States.

"I am excited to further this movement in any small way that I can," she said.

Gregory and her two daughters, Ann, 11, and Sarah, 9, will run a 2.15-mile leg together to Planned Parenthood, where they will join a scheduled prayer service.

Gregory, a former classmate of LIFE Runners' co-founder Pat Castle, took part in the organization's 2010 half marathon in Sioux Falls, S.D.

She said she enjoyed spreading the pro-life message by wearing the LIFE Runners jersey during that race while helping raise money for a mobile pregnancy care bus. The relay is another opportunity to show support for life, she said, and having her daughters involved will make it special.

The relay, which covers 4,089 miles, got underway Ash Wednesday with an East Coast leg in New York and a West Coast leg in San Francisco. From Omaha, the East Coast leg continues north to Sioux Falls, S.D., where both legs will meet on Palm Sunday, March 24, at St. Joseph Cathedral.

With more than 500 runners signed up for the event, which coincides with the 40 Days for Life prayer campaign, officials hope the relay will continue building momentum for the pro-life message.

"We want to change the culture to make abortion unthinkable," said Jeff Pauls, vice president of operations for LIFE Runners. "I believe we are entering the time when that can be achieved."

BE A PART OF IT

Participants can run or walk. Although only one person can sign up for each leg, other registered LIFE Runners are welcome to join each leg. To register, visit http://liferunners.org/cross-country-relay/.

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