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 | By Theresa Stratford

Life Runners Hope to Make a Difference and Save Lives with a T-shirt

The Bible is filled with verses in which God is asking us to speak up and advocate for those in need. There’s the Gospel of Matthew, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’” (25:40). And then there is the verse in Proverbs, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (31:8-9).

God is telling us that if there is a cause or if there is someone you feel needs guidance, who better to help them than you? Sometimes, that good deed is as simple as wearing a shirt.

That’s actually what the Aiken Life Runners are about. Sure, running is a big part of it, but the most important part is visibly advocating for the unborn at some of the most popular races in the area. 

The jerseys have a cross and “Life Runners” on the front and the back displays, “Remember the unborn –Jer 1:5.” The mission is simple: wear a life-saving message and help prevent abortions. Members wear this belief to make a very public pro-life statement. 

Deacon Bob Pierce, who serves at St. Mary Help of Christians Church in Aiken, started a running chapter there. The local team is made up of about 50 active members, and the international organization has chapters in 44 countries. There are over 20,000 people wearing these pro-life jerseys worldwide. 

“The great statement of Life Runners captures our essence: Jersey required. Running optional,” Deacon Bob said. “It is about providing a witness on our jerseys in whatever we choose to do. However, there is a great value when we do it together, preferably doing something normal like going to a restaurant or something fun, like taking in a movie or baseball game or Christmas caroling.”

The Aiken group usually meets on the first Wednesday of each month in some public place. Members always wear their jerseys. Some months have included praying in front of an abortion clinic, assisting in a church project or attending a parish activity. Deacon Bob helped start the chapter at the parish school, and he is assisting with formation of groups in Charleston, Greenville and Rock Hill. 

The international group participates in a marathon annually with various chapters represented. The goal is to provide substantial witness, whether as a marathoner, a runner at one of the shorter distance races scheduled in tandem or even as a spectator. In December 2022, the international Life Runners, including four members from Aiken, participated in the St. Jude Memphis Marathon. There were 19,000 total runners in the race and hundreds more as spectators. 

“All those people saw us in our jerseys,” Deacon Bob said. “It really makes a difference to see people taking a stance on being pro-life.” 

This month, Life Runners will gather at the Run Crazy Horse Marathon in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Stephanie Lee, one of the four who ran the St. Jude marathon, works as the Respect Life Coordinator at St. Mary. She said she loves the way events like the marathon and other retreats motivate those who are passionate about the pro-life movement.

“I just remember running that race and seeing some of the patients from St. Jude come out at mile three and cheer us on,” she explained. “It was so touching.”

She said much of her inspiration comes from her older sister who has Down Syndrome.

“I know some people think that abortion is merciful, especially if they see a sick child,” Stephanie said. The children at St. Jude would not agree. “Everyone loves them. We were running for them.”

She and Deacon Bob said that almost all the interactions they have while wearing their jerseys are positive, but on occasion someone might be negative toward them. Those rare occasions are not enough to deter Life Runners from their mission of spreading the pro-life message. 

Stephanie explained that the organization’s founder, Patrick Castle, often talks about how Jesus carried the cross — and Life Runners pick up a “seven ounce cross” by wearing the jerseys. 

And while the group encourages running and walking in events like the A-Cross America — the largest spanning pro-life event in the nation — one hour of public witness in the jersey counts as one mile.

“Life Runners is for everyone, even if you are immobile,” Stephanie added.

Just by wearing the shirt, Stephanie and Deacon Bob know they are making a difference. The Life Runners website states that 78% of post-abortive mothers said “if they had encountered one supportive person or encouraging message, they would have chosen life.”

“I don’t remember when I didn’t run in a Life Runners jersey at this point,” Stephanie said. “I want to run as many races as possible to keep spreading this message.”

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Theresa Stratford is a freelance writer for The Miscellany. She lives in Charleston with her husband and three children and attends the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Email her at